project coordinator

The Project Coordinator

Project coordinators are individuals that project managers sometimes need for their project management.

There are already many articles that explain the work of a project manager and his responsibilities in detail, but let’s take a look at this article to better understand who is the project coordinator.

First of all, to get a general idea of where the project coordinator is in the general structure of the organization, it is important to map the different roles in project management.

The project coordinator is the person who reports to the project manager and is immediately in the next tier of the chain of command.

Project manager vs. Project coordinator

Whilst project managers and project coordinators usually work side by side, it is very important to differentiate these two roles.

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The project coordinator is in charge of collecting all the necessary information for the team and the project manager and distributing it correctly.

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Every information or update that the team needs should be easily accessible, thanks to the project coordinator, throughout the project lifecycle.

Meanwhile, it is the project manager’s duty to oversee the planning of the project until its completion.

In the end, the project coordinator is tasked with streamlining and simplifying some of the project manager’s functions in order to facilitate everyone’s work.

Quality of the project coordinator

A project coordinator will coordinate, needless to say, the project program, budget, issues and risks.

It is his job to make sure that the project is well organized and runs smoothly and this may include communication with various departments of the organization to make sure everybody is on the same page.

Project coordinators must stand out in a hectic and challenging work environment and be prepared to be the project manager’s right-hand man.

Furthermore, project coordinators may have experience and technical knowledge in specific areas and may be assigned to specific departments according to their qualifications.

There are many qualities that define a successful project coordinator; here are the most important ones:

  • Detail-oriented: attention to detail is essential when supervising many different aspects of the project, all of which are key to the successful completion of the project.
  • Reliability: the project manager will answer to the project coordinator to manage the small details of the project management and, therefore, it is essential that the project coordinator is reliable and does not work against the project manager’s guidelines.
  • Good communication: the project coordinator can be considered as a bridge connecting the project manager to various other project team members. Therefore, they must have above-average communication skills.
  • Productivity: The project requires productivity from the team working on it and this is particularly important in the case of the project coordinator. Coordinators are like the oil that makes the wheel of the project spin perfectly.
  • Self-sufficiency: The last thing a project manager needs is a project coordinator who does not follow the task assigned to them. The project coordinator must be highly self-sufficient and capable of self-organization.

the project coordinator

Education, training and certification of a project coordinator

A formal degree in project management is generally not required.

However, most employers do seek several years of experience in their specific field and, preferably, a degree or certification in that field as well as some experience in project work.

For example, a degree in communication, management and business management, economics or other similar fields may provide the required skills.

Employers are also looking for skills in IT, Microsoft Office and, preferably, project management software.

For those who would like to expand further, training courses are organized every year for future project coordinators.

Project coordinator responsibilities

Some project coordinator responsibilities include:

 

  • Ensure that teams have the necessary tools to run the project.
  • Create a project program, with milestones, expiry dates and estimates of required materials and resources, e.g. team members, which will be submitted to management for approval.
  • Help with the documentation of each stage of the project, as well as drafting brief reports.
  • Working “on field” with team members.
  • Keep the morale of team members high and build relationships with them to develop a solid unit.

 

In conclusion, a project coordinator must not only be familiar with a hectic environment, but must also embrace it.

There are many different tasks and qualities expected from a successful project coordinator.

As stated above, coordinators perform very important tasks throughout the life cycle of a project.

We are confident that in the future, the role of the project coordinator will further develop into a highly integrated management role with the project team and will eventually become responsible for more – and increasingly important – tasks during the project lifecycle.

We have the tools, we have the culture.

comparison of leadership models

Comparison of leadership models

Before we begin the discussion on the various leadership models, it is essential that leadership, as a concept in itself, is explained and defined.

There is a difference between leader development and leadership development. Leadership development takes place at the individual level and focuses on developing an individual’s ability to learn from experience to integrate it into the practice of leading an organization.

Unlike leader development, leadership development takes place at the organizational level and covers the entire organization by creating significant connections with stakeholders and other external resources.

The effects of leadership create an economic and competitive advantage for an organization.

In short, leadership development is a continuous, holistic process that occurs throughout the entire organization, while leadership development focuses on improving and developing the capabilities of the leader alone.

Let’s see some leadership models and compare them.

Leadership models: genuine leadership

A genuine leader is someone who is aware of their values and who acts and leads accordingly.

The genuine leadership model includes four factors:

  • Self-consciousness,
  • Relational transparency,
  • Balanced processing,
  • Morality

A genuine leader is someone with high self-awareness who understands their strengths and weaknesses and is aware of their impact on others.

Self-awareness means that the leader acquires self-awareness through interaction with others.

Relational transparency means that the leader is willing to communicate openly about their followers’ feelings and thoughts.

Balanced processing refers to the approach of using objective data to make final decisions.

Finally, morality allows the leader to self-regulate their behaviour by withstanding social and group pressures.

Leadership models: Situational leadership

Although this leadership model is popular and widely used in organizations, it has not actually been thoroughly explored.

Unlike genuine leadership, situational leadership emphasizes adaptation to the level of employee readiness to perform certain tasks, which depends on the willingness and competence of team members.

Therefore, as each employee differs in their availability and skills, the leader should adapt their leadership style accordingly.

The situational leadership model is structured in three situational factors:

  • The level of direction of the task by the leader,
  • The relationship between the leader and the employee,
  • The expertise and trust of the employee.

Leadership models: Servant leadership

This is a leadership model in which the leader should overcome their ego by addressing the needs of their employees.

As stated by the “servant leadership” concept, the needs of employees become more important than the needs of the leader and therefore the leader “serves” employees to help them achieve success and meet their personal and professional needs.

The servant leader can reach the point of self-sacrificing behavior for the sake of employee happiness and well-being.

Leadership models: holistic leadership

An emerging model of leadership is the holistic approach that takes multiple aspects into account.

According to Schein, the dynamic and changing lifecycle of organizations requires four leadership roles that will help the leader manage the complexity and dynamics of organizations.

These four elements are:

  • The role of animator, where the leader should convey energy and enthusiasm to his employees.
  • The capacity of the leader to build the organizational culture by hiring employees with similar ways of thinking and exhibiting behaviors in line with the values and cultural characteristics of the company.
  • The third role of the leader is to support culture, which means that the success of culture is preserved if change and growth are promoted. Therefore, leaders may need to adapt their leadership to the evolving identity of the organization..
  • The fourth role is the leader as a agent of change. Psychologically, leaders must possess the emotional stability to create a safe environment for employees during the change process in order to reduce anxiety and resistance to change.

In this model, leadership is not about being the individual at the top of the hierarchy and in control of subordinates, rather it is about promoting humanistic values and methods of practice.

The holistic view of leadership enables organizations to be better prepared to solve problems by considering the interconnection of external networks, the different opinions expressed and embracing complexity as a whole.

In short, the role of the holistic leader is not limited to guiding the organization internally, but also extends to various roles that facilitate complex problem solving and effective implementation and adaptation to change.

leadership models

Leadership models: charismatic leadership

A highly charismatic leader has a strong need to influence others, possesses a strong and firm belief in himself and his values, has the ability to inspire a high need for success in his employees, and has the capability to show competence through the articulation of potential rather than actual achievements.

The skill of the charismatic leader lies in imagining and inspiring employees and facilitating commitment by giving the impression that they – and the mission they follow – are extraordinary.

However, charisma as the only trait of leadership may not be enough to face a given situation adequately.

As a result, the charismatic trait of leadership can be treated as part of a leader, but not the only one.

Combination of multiple leadership models for greater success

Ultimately, best leadership practice derives from the synthesis of several positive aspects of different leadership models in order to maximize the effectiveness of each of them.

The best leadership effects can be achieved if the leader is open to different nuances and strengths of different leadership models instead of being limited to just one.

Furthermore, leadership practice should be collaborative and collective, facilitating mutual and 2-way communication because the leader can also learn from their team members or peers.

There are several situational and environmental factors of which the leader may not be aware but which others who collaborate with him or her are able to observe and share.

In these circumstances, it is very important that the leader is willing to listen to their employees and learn from their opinions to see reality with different perspectives.

All leaders need best tools.

the talent management

Talent Management for a Project Manager

Knowing how to manage a talent, as long as you have it at your command, is not just a generic management of human resources.

Even when the project plan is drafted and sound, provided the project manager has the tools, technology, and time to complete the project, the key question remains: Does the project manager have the right talent and the right place to work on the project efficiently?

Effective project talent management begins even before the planning phases of a project, through selective recruitment, continuous training and career development.

Talent management should be conceived and regarded as a business strategy that will help the project manager retain exceptional employees.

For effective talent management, every aspect of recruiting, hiring and developing employees is addressed.

The ultimate goal must be to achieve a superior quality workforce.

What talent management implies

Talent management, if managed strategically, is driven by the mission, vision, values and objectives of the organization.

This allows each employee to see where their role fits into the organization and thus enables them to be involved in the overall management of the company.

From a strategic point of view, an effective talent management system helps employees to feel part of something bigger than their “simple” day-to-day business.

This management includes the following work processes:

  • Develop precise job descriptions so that you know the skills, abilities and experience needed for each role.
  • Use an appropriate selection process to select employees who have superior potential and fit the culture of the organization.
  • Negotiate requirements and performance standards based on rationally acceptable results.
  • Provide effective employee onboarding and ongoing training and development opportunities that meet both the employee’s needs and those of the organization.
  • Provide ongoing coaching, mentoring and feedback, so that the employee feels appreciated and important.
  • Hold regular meetings concerning service development planning focused on the interests of employees.
  • Develop effective compensation and recognition systems that reward people for their contributions.
  • Conduct exit interviews to understand why a talent has decided to quit the organization.

The three phases of talent management

Talent management approaches vary, however, there are three critical phases common to all organizations.

talent management

1. Talent identification and acquisition

It is increasingly difficult for organizations to find talent with the right combination of technique, leadership and strategic and business management skills.

However, without that particular talent, organizations risk not being able to ensure the proper implementation and completion of projects that are critical to achieving their objectives.

Once the skills needed for the role sought have been identified, talent can be found in two ways:

  • External recruitment
  • Internal recruitment

The potential to attract external talent and generate interest among internal candidates is often based on factors over which HR managers have little or no influence.

Being perceived as a first choice employer and the ability to offer a variety of interesting projects make an organization attractive to talents.

2. Talent development and preservation

Once the right talent is found, ensure that the skills are relevant to the company’s needs and that the employee remains interested in the organization are ongoing challenges.

Key areas to focus on to develop and retain talent include:

  • Support the effective mobility of resources from current assignments to the following opportunities.
  • Interlink career advancement processes.
  • Create extensive plans for progress beyond the boundaries of the organization.

Most organizations should pay attention to training and talent development.

It is therefore important that organizations, with the help of the project manager, set up a defined career and training path that allows them to develop the skills and competences of talents in their different areas of expertise.

3. Integration and transfer of talent knowledge

Project managers, human resources and business leaders will also benefit from the acquisition and sharing of knowledge.

Having a structured process to embed and transfer knowledge within an organization has a high positive impact on the success rate of projects and initiatives.

Organizational success is strongly correlated with both high maturity in talent management and the high level of matching between human resources, project managers and business leaders.

Research also supports the use of talent management strategies: in a study by the American Society for Training and Development in collaboration with The Institute for Corporate Productivity, the following practices have been identified as having a positive impact on talent management:

  • Standardize review and feedback processes.
  • Assign a sole functional owner – who can be the project manager – with regard to talent management.
  • Develop an organizational culture that supports talent management.
  • Ensure consistency between talent management activities.
  • Increase the visibility of talent management initiatives.

Bottom line, the project manager’s approaches to talent management may differ from organization to organization.

Through a more collaborative relationship between project managers, human resources and business leaders, it will be possible to gain more knowledge and information about project management and its critical connection to organizational goals, enabling more efficient and effective recruitment, retention and talent development.

As an organization is more experienced in talent management, the better it performs in executing projects that meet corporate objectives, drive strategic initiatives and improve financial performance.

Whatever the industry in which the organization operates, strategic change is driven through projects and programs.

Organizations that have the right talent and the right method of talent management undoubtedly have a critical capability that gives them an advantage over their competitors in the long run.

Finally, more and more organizations are considering talent management as an opportunity to distinguish themselves in the marketplace to gain a competitive advantage.

We have the tools, we have the culture.

negotiation skills in a project

The importance of negotiations in projects

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

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

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

What is the negotiation in a project

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

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

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

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

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

Why negotiation is important for project managers

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

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

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

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

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

Improving project manager’s negotiating skills

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

1. Improving negotiating skills: Practice

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

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

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

2. Improving negotiating skills: Preparation

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

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

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

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

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

3. Improving negotiating skills: Manage your emotions

Conflict situations and negotiations often expose the worst in people.

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

4. Improving negotiating skills: Take your time

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

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

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

5. Improving negotiating skills: Listen

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

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

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

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

The importance of negotiating: conclusions

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

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

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

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

Read more about Twproject bootcamps.

One try is worth a million words.
lead a team successfully

Leading a team successfully

Leading a team successfully, being an efficient manager and a charismatic leader at the same time may seem an impossible task, however, it doesn’t necessarily have to be so.

To do so, one must be a steady landmark for team members, a beacon to be followed at all times with confidence and admiration.

How can this be done? Let’s see it in this article on how to lead a team successfully, in which we have summarized the 9 basic rules that can help us in the mission.

9 basic rules to lead a team successfully

As we have already said, being a Project Manager who successfully leads a team is not an easy goal to achieve, yet at the same time it is not pure utopia.

Let’s try together to consider the following 9 rules that can smooth the way to our desired success.

Rule #1 to successfully lead a team: Find a management strategy and stick to it

There is nothing worse than a project manager who keeps changing his opinions and methods according to his mood.

Chaotic decision-making increases a team’s uncertainty and frustration, so it’s better to find a strategy and stick to it.

If you find some new methods that the manager wants to apply, they should make sure that they do not conflict with the overall direction of the project. Also, why not ask for Feedback from the Team before applying them?

Rule #2 for successfully leading a team: Set goals and track progress

This may seem obvious, yet too often a project gets stuck between client requests and monthly reports, and the overall goal and vision just seems to fade away.

Setting and achieving goals will provide a clear view of the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress.

Over time, you will be able to see weaknesses and improve results.

Rule #3 for successfully leading a team: Promote training

The key to a fast-growing organization is to empower the personal and professional development of its employees.

The idea is that as the organization grows, so do people develop in their positions, which means they have to learn constantly.

So a good manager offers training courses for employees or encourages peer-to-peer learning by asking more specialized team members to teach their particular experience or skills to colleagues.

Rule #4 for successfully leading a team:  Invest in a pleasant working environment

Research shows that a well-designed office environment can increase overall team performance by up to 20%.

Even small internal changes that do not require large investments can improve employees’ performance.

Here are some ideas for a more productive and pleasant working environment:

  • Modern furniture, such as ergonomic chairs and desks.
  • In-house library: recreational reading, even for just 30 minutes a day, has proven sufficient to increase productivity in the office, improve concentration and address problems such as depression and anxiety.
  • Music at the office: rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic as they perform their daily activities.
  • Entertainments or break room: having the opportunity to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees to relax and clear their minds and increases productivity.
  • Living plants: they make the atmosphere more welcoming and it has also been observed that they guarantee better air quality, increasing workers’ productivity by 15%.

lead a team

Rule #5 for successfully leading a team: Be kind and honest with the team

Most of the time, when people quit their jobs, they do so mainly because of their manager.

Being friendly and honest might not be enough to be a successful project manager, but it is a key part.

Here are some ways to appreciate and care for the team:

  • Celebrate progress and achievements of team members.
  • Talk regularly with the team and listen to what everyone has to say and, if necessary, implement new ideas.
  • Don’t throw stress and anger at the team.
  • Try not to overload the team.
  • Don’t be selfish, i.e. the manager should focus on what’s good for the whole team, not just for himself.

Rule #6 for successfully leading a team:  Offer flexible working hours

The traditional working hours, Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., are becoming less and less common.

Offering flexible hours or remote working is an effective way to inspire existing staff and give them more motivation. What matters is the final result.

Rule #7 for successfully leading a team:  Use only constructive criticism

Constructive criticism means offering rational and sound opinions about other people’s work, including both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved.

Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner.

When evaluating the work of the team, it is important to always give useful, specific and genuine feedback.

There is no need to be shy and merely praise, although a manager should also be direct and even harsh when necessary.

Rule #8 for successfully leading a team:  Don’t give yourself special treatment

The actions of the leader are followed, directly or indirectly, by the team.

This means that employees watch, observe and often emulate the manager’s attitude towards the work and the organization, especially if his actions do not show commitment.

In fact, no one wants to work for a leader who does not inspire motivation or looks like a slacker.

What a manager must do is therefore set an example: if, for example, they expect employees to arrive at work on time, it is important that they do the same.

Rule #9 for successfully leading a team:  Nurturing the corporate culture

Corporate culture is the personality of an organization that defines the working environment and relationships between team members and co-workers.

Corporate culture also includes corporate mission, values, ethics and objectives.

Whatever personality the organization has, it is imperative that the manager makes sure to embrace it, nurture it and pass it on to employees.

Here are a few things that might help in this regard:

  • Team building events.
  • Relevant books in the office library.
  • Proper initial training and coaching for new employees so that everyone is on the same page.

 

True leaders are hard to find, at any level of the organization… yet it’s not impossible to meet them.

Leaders show a unique blend of charisma, vision, and character traits that attract people to follow them.

That’s why for a leader who applies all 9 of the factors listed in this article, it becomes automatic to successfully manage a team.

Manage your projects at your best!

One try is worth a million words.
the project resources

How to estimate the resources of a project

Knowing how to estimate the resources required to carry out a project is never the simplest of tasks.

Resources are people, equipment, places, money or anything else a project needs to be executed.

As a result, resources must be allocated for each activity on the to-do list.

Before you can assign resources to the project, however, you need to know their availability.

Some resources need to be scheduled in advance and may only be available at certain times or times – for example, a meeting room or a rented office.

It is therefore essential to know this before you can finish programming a project.

Resource estimation

The objective of the resource estimate is to allocate the necessary resources to each activity on the list.

There are five tools and techniques for estimating activity resources:

  • The judgement of experts: this means involving experts who have already performed this type of work before and obtaining opinions on what resources are needed.
  • Alternative analysis: this means considering different options on how to allocate resources. This includes changing the number of resources and the type of resources used. Many times, there is more than one way to perform a task, and alternative analysis helps you decide between different possibilities.
  • Published estimation data: something that project managers in many industries use to understand how many resources they need for a specific project. These are based on articles, research and studies that collect, analyze and publish data from other people and organizations’ projects.
  • Project management software: these often feature functions designed to help project managers estimate resource needs and constraints and find the best combination for the project in question.
  • The bottom-up estimate: this means splitting complex tasks into simpler tasks and processing the resources needed for each small step. The need or cost of the resources of the individual tasks is then added together to obtain a total estimate. The smaller and more detailed the task, the greater the accuracy of this technique.

In another article we already talked about project estimation techniques.

 Estimation of activities’ duration

Once you have finished estimating resources per activity, you have everything you need to understand how long it will take to complete each activity.

Estimating the duration of a task means starting with information about that specific task and then working with the project team to develop a time estimate.

Most of the time you will start with a rough estimate and then refine it.

When you talk about estimating project time, you may have already heard of effort. If you’re interested in learning more about it, you can check this article about effort and duration.

Here are the five tools and techniques to create more accurate durability estimates:

  • The evaluation of the experts that will come from the members of the project team who are familiar with the work that needs to be done.
  • The equivalent estimate, i.e. when looking at similar activities from previous projects and how much time they took.
  • Parametric Estimation, i.e. linking the project data into a formula that provides an estimation.
  • The three-point estimate, i.e. when three numbers come up: a realistic estimate that is more likely to occur, an optimistic estimate that represents the best scenario and a pessimistic estimate that represents the worst scenario. The final estimate is the weighted average of the three.
  • The Back-up Analysis, i.e. adding extra time to the program (called emergency reserve or buffer) to take account of additional risk.

Activity duration estimates are a quantitative measure usually expressed in hours, weeks, days or months.

Another thing to keep in mind when estimating activity duration is to determine the effort required.

Duration is the amount of time an activity takes, while effort is the total number of people-hours required.

If, for example, two people work a total of 6 hours (3 hours one and 3 hours the other) to complete an activity, the duration is six hours. However, if these two people worked the whole time (simultaneously, for 6 hours), the duration would be 12 hours.

Project planning and critical roadmap

The project program must be approved and signed by the stakeholders and functional managers.

This ensures that everyone is familiar with the program, including dates and resource commitments.

In addition, (written) confirmation will be required that resources will be available as indicated in the planning.

Once approved, the program will become the baseline for the rest of the project.

The progress of the project and the completion of activities will be monitored compared to project planning to determine if the project is running as planned.

A delay in any of the activities in the critical roadmap will delay the entire project.

project resources

Resource equalization

Resource equalization is used to examine and resolve the unequal use of resources, usually related to people or equipment, over time.

During the execution of project planning, the project manager will attempt to plan certain activities simultaneously.

As the project progresses, however, there are situations where more resources – such as equipment or people – may be needed than are available and planned.

The project manager will attempt to schedule certain tasks at the same time as the project is progressing.

When using project software, resource equalization can take place automatically, allowing the software to calculate delays and automatically update tasks.

The project manager offers several tools for the development of good quantitative information, based on numbers and measurements, such as project schedules, financial and budget reports, risk analysis and objective monitoring.

This quantitative information is essential to understand the current status and trends of a project.

Likewise important is the development of qualitative information, such as judgement made by team members.

In conclusion, regardless of project size or budget, estimating activities can be a challenging task.

To create a feasible budget, the project manager needs to know their team, results, activities, and processes in detail.

In addition, he or she should feel comfortable asking the correct questions to stakeholders.

Twproject can help you scheduling your resources, learn how!

research pm

Research project manager

Research project managers are in charge of conducting research and development projects that lead to the achievement of a business and/or scientific objective.

To achieve this goal, research project managers determine and manage the methodology and techniques for the development of the research itself.

Research project managers, in their field, are responsible for reviewing the work, validating the data collected, creating reports and communicating with the different constituencies and project teams.

Research project management

Specialized research project managers possess advanced program and project management skills, strong analytical skills and knowledge of discovery and development processes.

They are capable of coordinating and easing the life cycle of research project management, including the initiation, development, and implementation of various complex experimental projects.

Research PMs coordinate study teams and manage the timing of research projects to ensure that studies are completed within the specified time frame.

Research project managers also regularly meet with stakeholders, including their research team, clients and study groups, to assemble and communicate business and research requirements and set expectations for the work.

Qualifications and skills of a research project manager

A Bachelor’s degree is generally required to qualify for a research project manager position.

Many employers, however, at the time of selection prefer candidates with advanced academic qualifications, such as a specific master’s degree.

In addition, five to seven years of direct research experience is usually required, as well as proven expertise in project management, including budgeting, planning, execution, delivery, quality control (Deming cycle) and reporting.

Qualified candidates are proactive resolvers with planning skills, outstanding management and leadership.

They can communicate with relevant parties from different functional areas and can convey complex data in tangible business terms.

Here are the 11 best skills that every research project manager should have.

the research pm

The 11 best skills that every research project manager should have

There are definitely many more skills required, but if you have these 11, you will have the basis on which to build a successful career in managing research and development projects.

1. Leadership

A research project manager is in charge not only of following the project through to successful completion, but is responsible for leading a team to achieve this goal. This requires motivating and mediating when necessary.

2. Communication

Communication skills complement leadership. You cannot be an effective leader if you are unable to communicate with the team.

3. Planning

The only way to achieve the objectives of the project within the time period that has been decided is to divide this objective into activities on a time line. That is what planning is all about, and it is at the very heart of what a project manager does: setting up a realistic schedule and then managing resources to keep track of the route so that the project can be completed successfully and on time.

4. Risk management

Everything carries its potential risks and the planning of a project, whether simple or complex, is also related to a dose of risk. It is part of a project manager’s job to see these risks before they become real problems. Therefore, before you execute the project, you must try to identify, assess, and control the risk.

5. Cost management

You can’t do anything without money. One of the first tasks assigned to the research project manager is therefore to make sure that the budget is realistic and able to meet the financial needs of the project and, secondly, to monitor these costs during the project life cycle.

6. Negotiation

Negotiation does not simply mean contracting the best price from a supplier; managing a project means being in constant negotiations. A project manager must negotiate with stakeholders, team members or other people involved in the project.

7. Critical thinking

Many of us do not think, but rather react and follow a series of automatic responses, learned throughout life. In general it does not necessarily mean that this is bad, but in certain situations it is better to know how to disable this mechanism and activate critical thinking. Critical thinking is simply being as objective as possible in analyzing and evaluating a problem or situation, so that we can form an impartial judgment.

8. Activity management

If planning is the foundation of project management, activities are what compose it. There will be many activities to create, assign and manage, which means that poor management of this process can severely affect the success of the project.

9. Quality management

Quality management is often neglected by project managers and requires the greatest attention. Quality management must oversee the activities necessary to create a product or service worthy of the level required by the client. Adhering to the time frame is important, but a project is useless if it produces something that is sub-standard.

10. Patience

Nothing gets sorted out when you’re in a hurry or when frustration takes over in case of unforeseen circumstances. Projects take time, from research to planning, and must be carefully designed to run smoothly. That doesn’t mean there won’t be problems: whether it’s a change request or a team member acting negatively, if you don’t have patience to handle things, the result will be worse.

11. Ready for innovation

Technology evolves constantly; as soon as you get used to one tool, another takes its place. In order to keep up with the times, you need to constantly learn and train, so that you can follow the path of a successful project manager. Especially in the field of research and development, there is nothing more truthful than that.

 

So here are the responsibilities and skills required in the case of a research project manager.

These do not differ much from what is required for a “traditional” project manager, but obviously the scope will be more specific.

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Functional managers in a project: how to involve them and why

Functional Managers do not always get taken into account in the realization of a project. These managers are generally seen as an additional cost rather than an investment. However, this is not the case!

In many organizations, teams are made up of so many members from so many different departments that it is often impossible for a single project manager to take care and “know” everything.

Actually, however, many companies are pleased to have just one project manager who coordinates the entire team and initiates a series of projects destined, for this reason, to fail right from the start.

It is evident that the number of roles required to achieve specific objectives depends on the size of the organization and the size of the project, but you should stop expecting the project manager to be the only person who can handle the management of large project teams.

The project manager, no matter how good and experienced they are, there are situations in which they cannot manage everything on their own. This is where functional managers come into play.

Even if the initial cost due to the introduction of functional managers will be higher (you will have to pay one or more people at managerial level), the company’s managers must consider the management benefits that will result from this investment.

Anyway, what is a functional manager?

functional manager is an individual who holds the management authority of an organizational unit, such as a department, within a company, company, or organization, and whose role serves to successfully complete processes.

The functional manager can be, for example, the head of Marketing or Logistics, Technical Department, or Administration.

The critical role of the functional manager is:

  • To review and approve the project plan for the specific area it addresses.
  • To offer people the opportunity to be members of the project team.
  • To provide guidance, as and when requested, to the team members of the department concerned.
  • To revise the project schedule if necessary.
  • To remove obstacles for the project team.
  • To provide team members with the time required to complete the project successfully, as defined in the approved project plan.
  • To ensure that the people in the department working on the project have an adequate level of skills and know-how to perform the work.

The role of the functional manager is, therefore, essential to execute complex projects flawlessly.

The substantial contribution of functional managers is also to try to show their team members how to solve problems by providing the appropriate methods and tools.

functional manager

What are the responsibilities of a functional manager?

  • Communicate any changes in the availability of their resources to the project/program manager.
  • Keep track of the status of the project/program and understand the impacts on their resources and areas of responsibility.
  • Help the project/program manager to deliver leadership and get the buy-in.
  • Evaluate the overall effectiveness and quality of the results.
  • Ensure the improved performance of their function and effective cross-functional integration.
  • Be involved in the project/program decision-making process relevant to the impact on the tasks for which it is responsible.
  • Communicate with the project/program manager any changes to the project that affect the quality or scope of the end result.
  • Ensure that the specific requirements of your sector for the output to be produced are communicated and understood.
  • Take part in the risk analysis of the project and problem management, whenever required.
  • Ensure that the time of their resources is not excessively unbalanced between the work needed for the project and any other “routine” activities.
  • Decide which resources to allocate to the project, ensuring that the funds allotted possess the suitable skills required for the project or have the ability to acquire such skills.
  • Understand the work required of its resources for the project and any new skills they may learn as a result of the project work.
  • Ensuring that funds are available for the project as initially promised and agreed upon.
  • Manage any resource performance issues that the project/program manager may encounter and report.

Integration between functional manager and project manager

In an organization, often initial resistance to the idea of having more than one manager (especially for budget reasons) arises.

However, the advantages of having functional managers who can actually spend time with the team pay off.

Good integration between functional manager and project manager can only produce benefits from all perspectives, both for the project and for the organization in general.

What is essential is that the team has clear in mind, which are the roles of one and the other and that the communication is transparent and unambiguous.

In fact, the functional manager is able to recognize whether a specific activity related to his department and experience, can provide (or not) added value to the project. This is why the functional manager has the ability to help the project manager recognize when the project team is wasting time and resources.

In general, therefore, the presence of functional managers and project managers will not only improve the performance of the project team but also enhance the morale and commitment of each individual team member.

The project manager will recognize the specific skills of the functional manager, while the functional manager will acknowledge the skills and coordination skills of the project manager.

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Problems with the team – identifying and neutralizing a toxic (negative/damaging) member

Problems with the Team can be a daily occurrence for a Project Manager. Finding and retaining valuable employees is critical, but identifying and dealing with so-called “toxic” employees is vital to the team’s compactness.

We all know that there are characters you can’t stand. We met at school, at university, or work.

If hired, employees are expected to bring value to an organization, but what toxic employees (i.e., employees with personalities that are not tolerated by the remaining team members) bring is just annoyance and problems that quickly affect the success of the project and the organization.

Human resources and top managers should be able to detect toxic behavior and take immediate action to prevent chaos. If not neutralized in time, these elements could even lead to the destruction of the corporate culture.

The different kinds of toxic members

Here are some signs of a toxic employee within the team and some suggestions on how to handle the situation.

Toxic members: The gossiper

It is undoubtedly a good sign if employees develop friendly relationships and get along well with each other.

An open communication culture should be encouraged; however, office gossip can lead to a significant reduction in productivity if it exceeds the limit.

Gossips are everywhere: chatting by the coffee machine, walking around during lunchtime, always trying to find exciting office “stories.”

This type of employee becomes toxic when they become hyper-focused on collecting funny stories and gossip rather than working.

In addition, excessive gossip and unfounded rumors can create drama among employees.

To avoid this, you need to make sure that employees have enough time to interact with each other during lunch or social events after work.

This way, they should remain more focused on work during regular office hours.

If however, this behavior persists, you will have to talk to those directly concerned and, in the most severe cases, act accordingly.

Toxic members: The one who always says yes

This is a rather tricky case to identify. As such, an employee does not seem to cause many problems, on the contrary.

However, you might notice that an individual team member always agrees at the end of every discussion and meeting, without ever bringing anything new.

If an employee behaves like this and never asks questions, this may be an indicator that they are not willing to learn.

These people make the least effort to do precisely what is expected of them and nothing more. They will wait for detailed instructions without any initiative.

In these cases, you need to talk to them to find out the reasons for their lack of motivation.

Toxic members: The procrastinator

In a world where employees use the internet daily for their work or even have to stay in touch with customers and suppliers on social media, from time to time, there may be distracted a bit.

However, when these distractions stop being quick and innocent, problems arise.

If the employee begins to miss deadlines or perform poor quality work, action must be taken.

Stricter deadlines and more demanding tasks can be the solution and, not to forget, positive words if a project is successfully completed.

Getting recognition on a regular basis ensures that employees are more committed to their work and perform better.

Toxic members: The apology maker

This kind of employee is similar to the procrastinator, as they both try to stay away from work, but the apology maker is definitely more creative as he always seeks justification for his delay.

Other “symptoms” include high absenteeism, low energy, and lack of motivation.

You can identify these employees with unscheduled visits, requesting regular reports, and making them personally responsible for specific tasks.
the toxic member

Toxic members: The narcissist

A narcissistic employee is usually an excellent interpreter but does not seem to recognize the value of a strong team.

This person prefers to work independently and may even go so far as to underestimate the work of colleagues.

The organization, however, needs the collaboration of the team to achieve challenging goals.

For this, you need to promote your team’s successes and support group projects, recognize the team’s efforts to demonstrate that each member’s input is essential.

Toxic members: The grumpy

It is quite ordinary to have a colleague grumbling on Monday morning, but when this becomes a habit, it is probably a toxic person.

These are the employees who are always complaining about everything – whether there is a real reason or not: from a broken coffee machine to a low-speed Internet connection; these people don’t seem to be satisfied with anything and, as a result, create negativity in the team.

In such cases, it is a good idea to compare people and ask what is causing their dissatisfaction. Is there anything that can be done to improve the work area, which would actually be beneficial for everyone?

Listening to reasonable complaints can lead to progress, but complaining just for the sake of it is something that cannot be accepted for too long.

Toxic members: The “I-know-it-all”

In our lives, we have all come across a person who believes they know everything, both personally and professionally.

These people usually have an answer for everything and will not accept or listen to another point of view.

Employees who show this kind of behavior are toxic because they don’t want to receive feedback.

So how will they perform better if they refuse to incorporate constructive criticism into their work?

In this case, training sessions for this type of employee can be envisaged in order to broaden their knowledge.

 

Ultimately, having a toxic employee on the team is more expensive in the long term than having a not fully trained employee.

Toxic behavior affects the whole team and prevents them from working efficiently.

Yet firing toxic employees is not always the best approach; in most cases, it is possible to eliminate toxic behavior and retain the worker.

People are not always aware of their behavior.

In general, once a toxic employee has been identified, the first solution is always to have a personal discussion with them and try to understand the reasons for this negative behavior and act accordingly.

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how to become agile coach

Become an agile coach to lead companies to success

The role of Agile Coach was born in the IT (Information Technology) sector. Still, now it is very sought after in other industries because organizations see the advantages of agile work.

So if you are in the field of program/project management and you are looking for a new and exciting role, becoming an Agile Coach is a great opportunity to bring your career to the next level.

All large organizations now require projects to be delivered faster and more effectively than in the past, as they meet market and consumer changes.

Employing an Agile Coach for a project helps everyone to focus on the main objectives, test, learn and quickly achieve output rather than following the traditional Waterfall style (link to the Waterfall article) of the project management.

Goals of an Agile Coach

As an Agile Coach, you can create your Work Team and motivate the team to achieve high performance imparting Agile methodologies through open communication and group collaboration.

The Agile Coach ensures that the team works as effectively as possible and has a different role from that of the project manager, whose task is to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of their position.

An Agile Coach must possess a combination of project management experience and leadership skills, as well as being skilled communicators, facilitators, and good at identifying different solutions to problems through the understanding of organizational development.

In short, the main objective of any Agile Coach is to monitor the activities of a team and the technologies they are considering.

In addition, they must be able to promote and incorporate Agile practices in order to make teams work faster and more efficiently.

It is essential to understand that the role of an Agile Coach is of a transitory nature and may not be required for the entire project period.

Auto-coaching is, therefore, one of the most important lessons to teach a team. This will ensure that the team can work with its own strengths and comfortably perform crucial tasks without relying too much on the coach.

What are the responsibilities of an Agile Coach?

Here are the responsibilities required for an Agile Coach:

  • Practical expert: a coach has to be more practical at the outset when individuals are not sure where and how to start with the new agile methodology. A functional expert will directly lead and implement the Agile methods and instruct teams and organizations accordingly.
  • Coach: an Agile coach is just like a coach. Everyone can solve their problems and adopt a new methodology with the help of a guide to understand how. A good coach gives people the tools they need to grow on their own.
  • Teacher: if the person or group lacks information, the agile coach fills these gaps and imparts new knowledge.
  • Technical consultant: an agile coach must be familiar with the sector in which the organization fits in so as to help the team, in case of a technical block, to overcome the obstacle by following the new methodology.
  • Counsellor: active listening is crucial to any Agile Coach. A coach in this role creates a safe environment where, for example, tensions related to the adoption of Agile practices can emerge in a free and honest discussion.
  • Facilitator: instead of giving defined answers and solutions, an agile coach helps team members discover them for themselves. The role of the facilitator also helps in conflict resolution and improving group dynamics.
  • Observer: this skill of the agile coach can provide valuable external perspectives that team members may not have recognized before, guiding them to new knowledge and revelations.

become agile coach

What does an Agile Coach do?

The work of an Agile Coach can be divided into five areas:

1. Catalyzing improvement

Adopting the Agile methodology means changing an organization’s processes and responding better to future changes. An Agile Coach must initiate this first and most significant change and help all staff to accept it.

2. Promoting awareness

To start change, an Agile Coach must educate the team about the need for change and create buy-ins within the organization. Open questions, charts, data, and metrics can help identify problems and gaps and ensure that the whole team is aligned.

3. Increase involvement

If an Agile Coach successfully promotes awareness, this can lead people towards greater participation in the organization and their role. Knowledge increases responsibility and commitment to finding a solution and helps staff to be part of and want change.

4. Developing skills

One of the critical activities of an Agile Coach is imparting knowledge. The creation of a collaborative learning environment and the promotion of emerging learning cultures are the keys to maintaining an Agile approach long after the end of the partnership with the coach.

5. Removing barriers

As a company turns into an Agile organization, the process can face many hindrances and challenges. The responsibility of an Agile Coach is, therefore, to remove obstacles and facilitate change so that an organization can continue to grow and collaborate smoothly.

What skills should an Agile Coach possess?

An Agile coach needs a wide range of skills and expertise to assist teams and organizations in change successfully. Among them, we find:

  • Mentoring, teaching, and training skills.
  • Communication skills.
  • Ability to influence: Agile coaches can face resistance, so they must be able to use their influence to show the power of the Agile methodology.
  • Patience
  • Empathy
  • Devotion
  • Technical mastery
  • Corporate expertise
  • Strategic and organizational skills.

 

An Agile Coach helps teams and people to adopt Agile practices and methods in their work, making it more efficient, transparent, and cohesive and allowing the achievement of better results, solutions, and products or services.

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stakeholder register

The project stakeholder register

What is the project stakeholder register, and what is it used for? We will see it in this article.

What is certainly undeniable is that no project can be successful if the stakeholders are not happy. Stakeholder satisfaction is essential for the successful completion of the project.

According to the PMBOK Guide, “An interested party may be a person, group, or organization that may be interested or have some interest in the project or the results of the project, directly or indirectly. ”

The stakeholders are all the parties involved in the project. Therefore, to manage project stakeholders, it is essential to have a register for this purpose.

What is a project stakeholder register?

project stakeholder register is a project-related document that includes all the information about the project’s stakeholders.

This document identifies the people, groups, and organizations that have an interest in the work, the project, and its results.

The following information can be found in a stakeholder register:

  • Names
  • Titles
  • Roles
  • Interests
  • Requirements
  • Expectations
  • Type of influence

It is essential to create the stakeholder register when the sponsor signs the project paper, and, at this stage, stakeholders are identified and analyzed and, consequently, a strategy can be created to manage them.

This document will help the project manager to complete the project smoothly.

The content of the project stakeholder register

You can categorize the information in the stakeholder register into three areas:

  • Stakeholder identification
  • Stakeholder evaluation
  • Stakeholder classification

If a stakeholder management strategy is then included, this will be the fourth category.

In a large organization, the stakeholder management strategy can be a separate document.

However, in a smaller organization, this information can be included directly in the stakeholder register.
the stakeholder register

Stakeholder identification

Generally speaking, the project’s stakeholders fall into three categories:

1. Organizational Stakeholders

These are the stakeholders within the organization and usually include senior management, technical management, and line managers, who are generally focused on a successful project and a successful product on the market. This type of stakeholder also includes the project team itself, which is interested in job security, fair wages, and career advancement.

2. Product and market-based stakeholders

This category contains stakeholders who have an “interest” in the product, though not in the organization. This category includes customers interested in purchasing a product that improves their lives at a fair price and also contains suppliers who provide tools, equipment, and services to carry out the project successfully. This category also contains governments that have a regulatory interest in the product and want to protect the public from the negative consequences of using the product. And finally, the general public is also included here, even if they are not stakeholders until they experience the outcome of the project.

3. Financing-based Stakeholders

The third group of stakeholders in the financial person or organization that supports the project. Investors, creditors, and banks that have financed the project are interested in achieving a return on investment within a reasonable time frame.

 

Each of these stakeholders should, therefore, be recorded, complete with contact details, job descriptions, position in the organizational structure, level of authority, and role in the project.

In short, effective stakeholder management requires the project manager to know who has the ability to influence the project so that quick decisions can be made in case of problems.

Stakeholder evaluation

In most cases, stakeholders have a definite “interest” in the project, e.g., a regulatory agency requiring an environmental assessment before issuing permits.

However, this is not always so immediate; often, stakeholders have minor requirements that only arise when they are not met.

Each stakeholder should be evaluated on what their requirements are.

In addition, each stakeholder has expectations about how the project will proceed, and its actions are governed by those expectations that may not be visible until they are met.

Furthermore, stakeholders have various levels of influence: from providing simple feedback to the complete shutdown of a project.

Each stakeholder has a different power over the project, and the project manager should assess where each stakeholder’s continuum is located.

Obviously, stakeholders who can shut down the project need to get proportionately more attention from the project manager.

Stakeholders also enter the project at different stages of the project life cycle. This is why the project stakeholder register must be updated regularly.

In short, in this part of the stakeholder register, stakeholders will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Their requirements
  • Their communication needs
  • Their expectations
  • Their influence on the project
  • Their interest and power

This part, if duly filled in, will help the project manager to complete the project with a minimal setback.

Stakeholder classification

Stakeholders can be classified in different ways.

One of these is internal or external stakeholders, which can be used to determine contractual and procurement requirements.

Internal stakeholders are stakeholders that are within the leading organization, for example, the project team, technical managers, or managers.

External stakeholders are outside the parent organization, e.g., suppliers and regulatory agencies.

Another method of classifying stakeholders is called impact/influence and is used to determine the potential negative impacts of the project. In this classification:

  • The effect is the extent of the possible interruption of the project.
  • Influence is the ability to motivate others to stop the project.
  • Those with leverage must be kept satisfied.
  • Those with impact must be kept informed.
  • Those that have both impact and influence need to be managed very carefully.

Another classification is as follows and is an excellent way to distinguish between the types of communication required by each stakeholder.

In this classification model, each stakeholder is classified into one of the following four types of classification:

  • “Upward” is related to the core organization: executives, investors, and sponsors of the project. These stakeholders hold commercial and financial interests in the project.
  • “Downward” are the stakeholders below the project hierarchy: suppliers, contractors, service providers, and so on. The project team itself also counts as a descendant.
  • “Outwardly” are stakeholders who have an “interest” in the project, such as government regulators, adjacent landowners, end-users, customers, and even the general public.
  • “Laterally” are stakeholders who are in competition with the project due to scarce resources, such as other project managers and organizational departments.

Stakeholder analysis and management strategy

After completing the stakeholder classification, the stakeholder management strategy is developed.

This will help the project manager to manage them according to their needs, influence, and interest in the project.

A more influential stakeholder will require a different strategy than another stakeholder with a lower level of influence.

The stakeholder register may contain confidential information, and not everyone may be allowed access to this document. Therefore, it is crucial to keep this document in a safe place.

However, many organizations do not restrict access to the stakeholder register, in which case a separate stakeholder strategy document can be created and kept in a safe place.

As the project progresses, new stakeholders will be identified, and their attributes may also change.

This is why it is crucial to keep the register up-to-date throughout the life cycle of the project.

Stakeholder management, therefore, plays a vital role in the success of a project.

Inadequate management of project stakeholders, especially those with high power and interest, can even lead to project failure.

Therefore, project teams and the project manager must perform timely and accurate stakeholder analysis, ranking, and prioritization, considering the ability of stakeholders to influence the project.

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stress and pm

Stress management and Project Management: how to manage stress in crucial moments of the project

The job of a Project Manager is undoubtedly one of the most stressful, as this position is directly responsible for the success or failure of a project.

Some project managers believe they can handle and deal with the high level of stress, making mistakes, and some even ignore or refuse to recognize that they are stressed.

The stress experience for a Project Manager not only impacts cognitive and behavioural performance, but can also have a negative impact on personal health, well-being and family life.

It is difficult to be able to change the amount of stress one can experience on a daily basis, but it is possible to change the way one deals with it.

It is important to be able to manage stress before it becomes increasingly difficult to cope with.

Sources of stress in project management

Just imagine: The project’s due date is in 2 weeks and there are still some critical issues to be resolved. To make matters worse, one of the key members of your team has been hospitalized. The client is not satisfied and the management requests a daily review. And this is just a tiny example of the many scenarios that a project manager can experience every day.

The sources of stress in project management can be many and different.

Here are some of the most common sources:

  • Unrealistic chronology and schedules
  • Working in a system and organizational structure where project management does not exert full control over resources
  • Lack of resources – human and/or instrumental
  • Proliferation of virtual teams and intercultural influences that are difficult to manage
  • Dispute between groups in the organization
  • Project environment

A project manager’s first step must be to recognize that he is under stress and then develop self-discipline before learning and practicing what are the techniques for dealing with stress.

Learning to successfully manage stress begins with a willingness to take an honest look within ourselves.

Techniques for managing stress in project management

Many techniques can help to manage stress. No technique is unique to everyone and no technique will be able to completely eliminate stress. Each person has to decide what will work best for himself or herself.

This suggests that techniques should be explored to determine what works best for us and, once you find some strategies that work, the commitment to practice them is the key to dealing with stress.

Having understood this concept let’s take a look at some of the most commonly used techniques to lower stress levels.

Stress management techniques: Detachment or disassociation

Let’s look at the example of a meeting where the project manager is extremely frustrated and considers it all as wasted time.

In this case you can use detachment or dissociation, mentally “controlling” the meeting, letting your mind wander towards a more enjoyable image.

It’s a technique that may seem nonsensical, but manages, instead, to relieve stress effectively.

stress and the pm

Stress management techniques: Monitoring the “what if” thinking

During a stressful event or meeting, it is natural to end up in the “what if thinking”, where one wonders “What if we had done this in the past, could we not be struggling right now?”

As is evident, this form of thinking implies a focus that is not geared towards the present.

An alternative to this form of thinking is to focus on the present by asking yourself this question, for example: “It’s Thursday, it’s 3:17 p.m., I just received bad news about the project. What can I do in the next hour to take a small step towards improving the situation?”

Basically, don’t focus on how we got there, but on what to do to get out of it, even with the smallest of steps.

Stress management techniques: Developing strong conflict resolution skills

Additional stress is added to working life when reacting to a stressful situation by avoiding or denying it. The same is true when you overreact to a stressful situation.

Both approaches increase the level of stress.

For this reason, it is important to develop the ability to resolve conflicts, possibly by following a special training course.

Stress management techniques: Knowing when it’s enough

Knowing when enough is enough and staying away from debates is a powerful solution to some situations of high stress.

A natural but often unproductive approach to solving a situation is to discuss with another person the sense and reason for one’s point of view. These situations are strong sources of stress.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t assert your beliefs, but you should know when to stop.

If you continue to want to try to be perceived as “right”, you are just increasing the level of stress and you are wasting useful energy.

Stress management techniques: Look for a paradoxical component of the situation

In the midst of a situation that is rightfully stressful, you may find that you’re taking yourself, or the situation, too seriously.

Behavioural psychologists would say that we are engaging in a “catastrophic” behavior, in which we take a singular and negative event, and we find ourselves believing, for example, that the entire project is condemned because of this serious problem.

An antidote to this way of doing and thinking is to find a paradoxical cognition to cling to, something that will put stress and worries into perspective.

Other useful techniques for stress management

  • Priority: create a hierarchy of priorities and assign each activity according to its urgency and importance. Focusing primarily on urgent and important tasks and not overwhelming yourself by worrying about the whole workload.
  • Avoid extreme reactions: why hate when it comes to a little distaste? Why generate anxiety when you can be “just” nervous? Why be depressed when you can simply be “just” sad?
  • NLP implementation – Neuro-Linguistic Programming – for reducing stress: NLP provides a variety of excellent tools and concepts to enable individuals to deal with or change negative stress into positive resources. With NLP you can change overwhelming and immobilizing feelings into powerful motivating drives.
  • Physical exercise: take a break and plan some physical activities, whether it’s jogging, cycling, hiking or other outdoor activities to relieve stress.
  • Meditation: Meditation and breathing exercises have proven to be very effective in controlling stress.

Stress Management: conclusion

Finally, we can say that there are various ways for a Project Manager to reduce stress. Each of these ways can bring benefits and everyone needs to test them to understand which ones are best suited to them.

It is obvious that success in stress management does not only depend on the type of technique used, but it is also the commitment of the person applying the techniques that makes the difference.

The same strategy may not work for everyone.

You have to take an honest look at yourself and determine what is most practical and what makes most sense for you.

Engaging and striving seriously to reduce stress can improve your happiness and health. That’s why it’s worth trying.

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shareholder vs stakeholder differences

Shareholder vs. Stakeholder: in what they are different and why it is important to not confuse them

In a company there are shareholders and stakeholders. Both have invested something, however, they are separate entities.

Although they have similar names, their investment and role in an organization is fairly different and it is critical to not confuse them.

Shareholders are always also stakeholders in a company, although stakeholders are not always necessarily shareholders.

A shareholder owns a share in a public company, while a stakeholder shares an interest in the performance of an organization for reasons beyond the performance or value of the shares.

This means that both parties share a common interest: the organization must be successful in the long term.

The shareholder is an individual who has invested money in the organization by purchasing shares in the company itself. The reach of the stakeholder is wider. Stakeholders represent, in a nutshell, the entire micro-environment of the company and not just the shareholders.

While the shareholder owns a share of the organization and thus pays the price for it, and is therefore partly owner of the company, the stakeholders are not the owners of the company, rather they are the parties who take care of the company.

We take a look at all the key and specific differences between stakeholders and shareholders in this article.

Definition of shareholder

All companies raise their own capital from the market by issuing shares to the public.

The shareholder is therefore the person who buys these shares of the company from the primary or secondary market, thereby obtaining part of the legal ownership in the capital of the company.

A share certificate is issued to each individual shareholder for the number of shares he holds.

The simple subscription of shares does not constitute ownership of the shares. One only becomes the owner when the shares are actually allotted.

A shareholder is therefore any party – a physical person, a company or an institution – that owns at least one share in an organization. So, the shareholder owns a financial interest in its profitability.

If the company’s share price increases, the value for shareholders also increases, while if the company has a poor return and the price of its shares decreases, the value for shareholders decreases. It is clear that this trend is not trivial for a shareholder.

Definition of stakeholder

Stakeholders are the parties involved in helping the organization to exist. Without the stakeholders, the organization cannot survive for long.

According to the traditional governance model, the management of the company is only accountable to shareholders. Nowadays, this scenario has completely changed and is no longer believable.

Many organizations, in fact, believe that, in addition to shareholders, there are many other components in the corporate environment and that management is also their responsibility.

A stakeholder is a party that has an interest in the success of the company and can affect or be affected by the policies and objectives of the organization.

Stakeholders can be internal or external. Internal stakeholders have a direct relationship with the company through employment, ownership or investment. Internal stakeholder examples may include employees, shareholders and management.

External stakeholders, on the other hand, are individuals who do not have a direct relationship with the organization but can still be influenced by the actions and manoeuvres of that company. Examples of external stakeholders include suppliers, creditors, communities and public groups.
shareholder vs stakeholder

Key differences between stakeholders and shareholders

Below are the differences between stakeholders and shareholders in detail:

  • Shareholders own the company because they have purchased financial shares issued by the company. On the contrary, stakeholders are those who influence or are influenced by the company’s policies and objectives.
  • Shareholders are part of the stakeholders. It can also be said that shareholders are stakeholders, but stakeholders are not necessarily shareholders of the company.
  • Shareholders focus on the return on their investment in the company. On the other hand, stakeholders focus on the performance, profitability and liquidity of the company.
  • The scope of stakeholders is relatively broader compared to that of shareholders because there are other elements in addition to shareholders.
  • We can only find shareholders in the case of public limited companies. However, every company or organization has its own stakeholders, whether it is a government agency, a non-profit organization, a partnership or a sole proprietorship.

Conclusion

It is thus clear that stakeholders and shareholders are terms that refer to different roles.

Stakeholder and shareholder have different points of view depending on their interest in the company.

Shareholders expect the company’s management to carry out activities that have a positive effect on the prices and performance of the shares and on the value of their dividends to shareholders. Furthermore, they would like the company to focus on expansion, i.e. acquisitions, mergers and other activities that could increase the company’s profitability and overall financial health.

On the other hand, stakeholders focus on the longevity of the organization and better quality of service. For instance, an organization’s employees may be interested in better wages and salaries, rather than higher profitability. Suppliers may be interested in timely payments for goods delivered to the company, as well as better rates for their products and services. Customers would be interested in receiving better customer service and purchasing high quality products.

Many organizations have therefore begun to accept the fact that, in addition to shareholders, the company is also responsible for many other components of its business environment.

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pm collaborating with team

Collaboration with the team: The advantages for the PM

Collaboration during a project is a method by which teams and project managers plan, coordinate, and monitor the project on which they are working.

In practice, the entire success of managing a project is based on group collaboration.

Collaboration means two or more people working together to achieve a goal. Generally, this ends with the creation of a product or service, but this collaboration process can also go beyond the departmental and even company boundaries.

With the increasing preponderance of remote work teams and the movement of data on cloud servers, the collaboration, which is always the basis of team work, it has become even more a watchword in project management.

The importance of collaboration

As mentioned above, the collaboration refers to two or more people working together to solve a problem and / or achieve a certain goal.

This may seem like a concept equivalent to that of “team work“, but there are actually considerable differences between the two.

Typically, a team is a group of people with similar skills who regularly work together with a person who makes key decisions, while in collaboration they bring together people with different skills and experiences to solve a problem or work towards a certain goal.

All the subjects involved are therefore united for a common goal and the authority is shared.

Collaboration takes place in teams, however, simply putting together a team does not mean that everyone will collaborate effectively.

The increasingly frantic global economy drives organizations to do more with less and respond quickly to customer requests.

Organizations need cross-functional teams to innovate and improve processes in order to remain agile.

These needs are met, in part, by the huge availability of collaboration tools in the market. Thanks to project management software such as TWproject,  for example, teams can chat, share, and co-edit documents, assign jobs, create reports, automate tasks using flows work at any time, from anywhere.

Collaboration is part of the digital revolution and these new tools simplify it.

Collaboration and Project Management

When applied to project management, collaboration involves bringing together a team of different departments, offices, organizations, and even countries to complete a project.

Each team member has only a part of the information and skills necessary to perform the work for a project. They must rely on the collective experiences, skills, and knowledge within the team to fill the gaps.

Completing a project requires different skills and experiences, provided by a cross-functional team that in general does not work together every day.

Collaboration is also important for new project managers and inexperienced team members.

These people rely on the skills and experience of the team to contribute successfully to the project.

The emphasis on the collaboration of the project team reflects the structure of many companies that are becoming less and less hierarchical and that see a greater interaction between departments.

If collaboration is the essence of modern project management, ineffective collaboration or lack of collaboration can undermine the project.
collaborating with the team

What are the advantages of collaboration for the PM?

Collaboration allows, in short, to be better than the sum of the individual parts.

Here are some of the advantages of a good collaboration for the project manager:

  • Increased productivity: Distributing activities to team members who have the time and skills to complete them, rather than overloading a team member with too much work and neglecting others.
  • Better problem resolution: Giving team members the autonomy to work together to solve problems offers more ways to success, as well as building team loyalty and morale.
  • Better communication: Communication lines need constant care or a wrong direction can deviate a project. Collaboration facilitates clear communication and provides a solution to communicate effectively also in case of remote teams.
  • Reduction of general expenses: One of the biggest costs of any organization is the rent or purchase of a physical space in which everyone can work. However, with collaboration, team members do not need to be in the same place.
  • Promotion of human resources: By promoting collaboration among team members, not only it is possible to build strong relationships, but also to create loyalty that helps retain employees.

How to improve collaboration in a project team

The advantages of collaboration in project management are therefore clear, but implementing them can be difficult, especially when managing remote teams.

Here are some tips to increase collaboration within an organization:

  • Communication: Every good project manager knows that good communication is the foundation of everything, especially to establish a collaborative environment. Not only is it necessary for the project manager to communicate correctly and frequently, but also to convince the team to do so.
  • Orientation and training: In order to learn something new, a training session is always necessary and, at times, also a reference figure to who expose doubts and questions is needed. In the case where, for example, a new project management software is installed, it is necessary to organize a training session for the team in order to start an effective and fruitful collaboration.
  • Change: Old habits are often hard to die, but it is necessary to get the team away from old methods that are no longer effective for the project.
  • Sharing: A healthy and positive collaboration will not be possible unless the virtual walls that separated team members in the past are knocked down.
  • Monitoring: When a project is run and a plan is not set, the project will be destined to fail. The same applies to the implementation of the collaboration. This is why it is necessary to monitor and hold regular meetings with the team in order to answer questions and keep track of their progress.

Bringing people together to work collectively and foster collaboration is no longer a choice, but a necessity for any project-based activity.

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importance of feedback

How and why to get feedback from the project team

Getting feedback from the project team is one of the things that seem most obvious for a project manager, but that can be very difficult.

It is a task of the project manager to support and challenge the team, so that together they can achieve the expected results.

To do this effectively, however, the project manager needs to know if he is supporting and challenging the project team in the right way or if, despite his good intentions, he is unwillingly holding it back.

A project manager must know what he does well, so that he can continue to do it, but he must also understand his weaknesses in order to correct them. In short … the project manager needs feedback. How to get it then?

First, if a project manager wants to receive feedback from the project team, he must focus on the actions he can take to receive it.

The tactics that we will illustrate in this article will help the project manager increase the chances of receiving the much desired feedback from his project team.

Exit interviews and feedback

Usually, companies rely on employee exit interviews to get information on a manager’s effectiveness. But what is the use of understanding how an employee feels about his manager when he has already decided to leave the company?

Although it is not too late for the manager to hear this feedback, it is still too late to use it in the proper way.

Quality feedback should help the project manager to work better with his team, improve leadership style, and make sure that he is aware of the problems before they become serious and dangerous for the project. Gathering interviews only when the collaborators leave the organization, although not completely useless, makes little sense.

How to get feedback from the team: Ask specific questions

Have you asked the project team specifically for feedback lately? In fact, there is a big difference between thinking that you want to receive a feedback and asking it directly.

Adopting an “open door policy” is often not sufficient and it is necessary to ask the team directly for feedback.

Moreover, it is not optimal to ask for generic things like “Do you have any feedback for me?”. This is a vague request and it is difficult to know what the person really wants to know without specifying a context.

Instead, it is good practice to ask for a feedback and ask specific questions such as:

  • How could we organize our team meetings in order for them to be more effective?
  • Would you like more or less direction / support from me during your work?
  • What could I do to make your job more enjoyable?
  • Do you think your ideas are considered by the team? And by me as a project manager?

With specific and targeted questions, it is easier to receive an honest feedback.

How to get feedback from the team: Be grateful and accept feedback – especially if negative

Think of the last time you provided someone with a strong and potentially negative feedback. Did the person immediately accept it? Or did he argue and try to say it was not true?

Any person who receives a rather negative feedback may be slightly on the defensive at first, but if the attitude is really extreme, to the point of not accepting feedback, answering badly, and even being offended, you will probably think twice before providing a feedback again.

Same thing applies in the case of the project manager! If he remains defensive towards the feedback team, it is not surprising that in the future the team members will hesitate to provide further feedback.

If a team member is giving a feedback, see it as a gift.

This means that the person cares a lot about sharing his point of view, so that things can improve for both.

It is undeniable that some pills are more difficult to ingest than others, but it does not change the fact that the final intent is to help.

The next time you receive feedback from a team member, try this approach to make sure you continue to receive constructive feedback:

  • Take a break and thank for the feedback before saying anything else.
  • Ask the person to share a recent situation that is linked to the feedback, in order to contextualize it.
  • Ask for clarifications to make sure you understand the essence of the feedback.
  • Discuss possible solutions or changes or, if the behaviour cannot be changed, explain why.

Receiving feedback is not always a pleasant experience. However, with a little practice and an open mind, it is possible to make the project team more peaceful when providing feedback.

This inevitably makes employees more likely to give more feedback in the future.
feedback from team

How to get feedback from the team: Act

When the project manager receives feedback from his team, his work has just begun.

The team has indeed shared feedback with the project manager, because they want to see things change. Otherwise, why would they worry about sharing it?

If a fact is so important that it is worthy of feedback to the project manager, it is something the team wants to see changing. And if this progress is not shown, it will certainly be discouraging for them.

A project manager who does nothing with the feedback he receives is unlikely to get more feedback in the future, or have a long-term committed team.

For this, it is necessary to transform the feedback into action.

When getting feedback, the project manager should take a few minutes to discuss the next steps.

This action gives the team members the feeling of being heard and helps them understand what progress could be made in relation to their feedback.

Each situation will be slightly different, in general there are three possible feedback scenarios:

  • The project manager changes something: his actions will positively confirm the team’s courage to give feedback.
  • The project team changes something: the project manager helps the team create the type of organization they want to work for.
  • The project manager explains why that particular behaviour cannot be changed: when something cannot be changed, it is necessary for the project manager to help the team understand why the situation must remain the way it is and must create empathy.

How to get feedback from the team: Use reciprocity

Are you giving – as a project manager – your feedback to the team? Are you taking actions that you would like to be reproduced by the group as well?

It is important in this case to know the power of reciprocity. Reciprocity lies deep in the psyche of human beings.

A small example: if you give someone a gift or do something for a person, this person will feel indebted to you and will therefore be more inclined to return the favour or do something else requested by you with a similar value.

Reciprocity prevails over feelings.

Even if you don’t have a good relationship with all the team members, reciprocity can still help you get more feedback.

As Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” By changing the concept of “country” with that of “team” in the context of project management, we have the definition of reciprocity.

How to get feedback from the team: Give the example

There is nothing more important than the example that a project manager, as a leader, gives to the team.

In fact, the project team observes daily what the project manager does, and his actions are even more relevant than his words.

If the project manager wants feedback to be a fundamental part of his team’s culture and habits, then he must learn to give the right example to follow.

Here are some ways to do it:

  • Provide feedback and praise to the team: as discussed above, it is important to create a situation of reciprocity.
  • Hold a reflection meeting on the project: when a major problem occurs or a project ends, it is important to take time to meet with the team to talk about what went well or wrong and what to do differently next time. It is a great way to make everyone focused on improvement.
  • Take responsibility for your own mistakes: if the project manager shows that the feedback is appreciated and that this brings a change, the team members are more likely to do the same when it comes to them. If a project manager is open to constructively criticizing himself, this automatically makes the entire team more open.

Receiving constructive feedback may not always be easy, especially when it comes from employees.

However, feedback can provide very useful information about the expectations of team members, about things that need to be improved in the workplace, and how employees perceive their manager.

Following the advice we have listed in this article, will help you encourage team members to feel comfortable when providing constructive feedback.

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Communicate with the project team

Communicate with the project team: the best techniques to use

A good communication with team is the main method for excellent project management. In fact, effective communication allows a project to have a successful conclusion, but on the other hand, bad communication could be fatal.

The project teams are in a constant state of communication: e-mails, videoconferences, phone calls, messages, face-to-face discussions, and non-verbal interactions.

Whatever the type of media used, project teams can increase the chances of reaching goals if the right communication strategies are developed and if everyone is kept informed about what is happening.

Here are some suggestions for the project manager in order to communicate effectively with the team during the project.

Adopt an “open door” policy

An “open door” policy allows anyone to ask questions and expose concerns and ideas at any time.

This is an important part of building trust within the team. Knowing that it is possible to ask questions about any concern is a great motivation for team members. It makes them feel important and an integral part of the project.

Another suggestion is not only to “open the door” figuratively, but also literally. Removing physical obstacles between employees creates a sense of mutual trust and encourages an open exchange of ideas.

Be open to mutual feedback

Nobody is perfect, so we all need a feedback from time to time.

A criticism or feedback is useful when it is constructive and, to be effective, it must be clear and detailed.

And we must not forget that feedback or criticism, whatever it may be, must be accepted and processed by the person who receives it. A good Project Manager must be ready to carefully examine the feedback received from the team and to take, where necessary, the right measures and / or corrections.

Be clear about the activities so that everyone knows his responsibility

No one can complete an activity if he is not sure what his responsibilities are.

For a project manager, it is essential to make sure that the whole team knows the purpose of the project and that each individual has a clear idea of what exactly is expected of him. In this a RACI matrix can be very useful.

Bringing the team together regularly in order to monitor progress, ask questions, and tackle any problem is another effective way to keep everyone on track. Make sure all team members are aware of their responsibilities within the project.

Do fun things to boost morale

Team building exercises have long been used to improve communication between team members.

In addition to organizing role-plays or other workplace activities, it is also possible to organize a dinner (for example once a month).

The goal is to create socialization among team members. When colleagues are comfortable with each other, they communicate better.

The feeling of having a second family at work makes people more willing to work harder towards a common goal.

Give a purpose to coffee breaks

coffee break
Linked to the previous point and team building: a coffee break allows everyone to interact informally while still in the workplace.

Coffee is the fuel that allows most people to “survive” during working days, so why not make it enjoyable and productive at the same time?

Communication training courses

This can be very effective for improving group communication.

Communication-focused training is not just about basic conversation skills but, depending on the course, it could include presentation skills, writing skills, and training on managerial skills.

Decide which form of communication works best

Different situations require different ways of communication.

For a project that involves team members working remotely, for example, a video conference is an excellent way to keep in touch and exchange information on progress and goals.

For projects with an internal team, face-to-face meetings are often the best method of communication.

In short, depending on the type of project and team, the most efficient form of communication could be different. Therefore, it is important to choose it well.

Use project management software for greater transparency

Project management software enables transparency across the team, giving the possibility to monitor progress, collaborate with other members, and check details and deadlines.

With a simplified system, everyone has access to project specifications and can leave comments that others can see. Moreover, a chat inside the software, will greatly facilitate the communication between members.

Identify group leaders

In most project teams, there may be several leaders (below the project manager) who coordinate team subgroups.

It is important to make clear from the start who those leaders are, let the team members, but also the project manager himself, know exactly who to contact in case of problems or questions.

This process distributes work more equitably among leaders and reduces stress on individual team members.

Understanding diversity problems

When people of different nationalities, ideologies, and languages collaborate, the ideas that come from them can create something really special.

But diversity does not come without its challenges: accents, dialects, and cultural dialogues can sometimes lead to confuse communication and create misunderstandings.

To avoid these difficulties, team leaders, together with the project manager, must work on a strategy to minimize these problems.

Identify the strengths of each individual

Not all people like to communicate in the same way.

Visual people, for example, tend to prefer written forms of communication, such as e-mail or software, whereas other type of people benefit more from a phone call, video chat, or face-to-face meetings.

Taking note of the fact that everyone is different and prefers a different form of communication, not only does it improve the spread of information, but it allows us to recognize people as individuals and not as mere numbers.

Be open and honest with team members

Perhaps the most effective way to improve interpersonal communication in the workplace is to spread a sense of trust among team members.

Transparency is the key. If team members feel that some information is kept secret, any trust that has built up over time goes away.

Obviously, some sensitive information must be kept secret, but when it comes to something related to team members, they have the right to know.

The project manager must therefore be open and honest with them and ask them to do the same.

Mutual trust is important in every relationship, including professional relationships.

Take advantage of mobile devices

mobile devices

Nowadays, almost everyone has a smartphone or other mobile device connected to the network.

So why not take advantage of the opportunities that technological progress gives us?

Some software solutions for project management, for example, can offer an app for project managers and team members, with which it is possible to stay up to date on project developments in real time. In Twproject, for example, you can use the chat.

Make an anonymous survey

In many workplaces, it can be difficult for team members to always be honest.

In order to understand the needs and concerns of the team, a solution can be that of an anonymous survey.

In this way, it will be possible to collect all the concerns that are not directly communicated and find out possible problems that the project manager could not know.

People are more likely to be honest if they know their opinions are and will remain anonymous.

Take responsibility for errors

The best managers are those who assume their responsibilities, even – and above all – when it comes to errors.

Everyone makes mistakes, so by confessing his own fault, a project manager will show to be a human just like his employees.

Using these suggestions, you can bring the team together, improve communication and, in general, make the workplace a better place.

These factors lead to an improvement in the quality of the project, better control over the budget, and greater customer satisfaction.

When the workplace becomes a second home and colleagues become a second family, this cohesion translates into maximum team productivity.

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comitato direttivo

Steering Committee

As the name suggests, a steering or coordination committee helps guide and coordinate a project from beginning to end.

Sometimes, the committee is formed entirely by the team that is directly involved in developing and implementing the project.

More often, however, the steering or coordination committee is composed of representatives of key organizations who are partners in the project and / or who have particular experience in the project sector or whose clients are the final users of the project output.

In general, it is very important and useful to include at least one client or potential user of the output of the project. Their feedback, in fact, can be useful for the success of the project.

A steering committee must be useful to the project manager and not be a distraction or a cause for disturbance, which is why its members should be carefully selected.

What is the role of a steering committee?

The role of the steering committee is to provide advice and ensure the achievement and delivery of project results.

This can include activities such as:

  • Provide input to the development of the project, including the evaluation strategy;
  • Provide advice on the project budget;
  • Define and help achieve project results;
  • Identify the priorities in the project, ie the activities where most of the energy must be directed;
  • Identify and monitor the potential risks of the project;
  • Monitor the quality of the project as it progresses;
  • Give advice, and if necessary make decisions, on project changes

In short, the steering committee provides support, guidance and supervision of progress.

As a rule, the project manager will attend the meetings of the steering committee in order to report and inform on the development of the project and to answer any questions raised by the committee members.

The role of the steering committee is to provide advice and ensure the achievement and delivery of project results.

What role do individual members of the steering committee play?

The members of the Steering Committee are not directly responsible for project management and activities, but provide support and guidance for those who directly work on the project, ie the project team.

Committee members should:

  1. Understand the goal, strategy, and expected results of the project;
  2. Appreciate the importance of the project for the organization and its customers;
  3. Be sincerely interested in the project and the desired results;
  4. Be a supporter of the project by doing everything possible to promote the results;
  5. Have a broad understanding of project management problems.

 In practice, it means that the members of the steering committee should:

  • Ensure that the planned strategy matches the purpose of the project;
  • Review the progress of the project with respect to milestones;
  • Consider ideas and problems;
  • Provide guidance to the project team;
  • Help balancing priorities and conflicting resources;
  • Promote positive communication outside the committee;
  • Actively promote project outputs;
  • Contribute to project evaluation.

Often, a President of the Steering Committee is also elected. It will be a member of the committee that will moderate and ensure that the meetings run smoothly.

It should therefore be emphasized that the first responsibility of the members is to achieve the success of the project and only in the second place, there is the interests of the organization as a whole.

For this reason, members who have experience in a particular area should avoid focusing only on that part. They have to remember that they work on the general project support.

Sometimes, it is useful for the project manager to prepare a simple description of the roles of the members of the steering committee, in which the expectations and the commitment required are defined.
il comitato direttivo

How often should a steering committee meet?

The frequency of the Committee’s meetings is determined by the size and scale of the project.

Usually, for smaller projects it is sufficient to schedule a meeting during the planning phase, another around half of the project in order to monitor progress and a final meeting to evaluate the project results and contribute to its evaluation.

For larger projects, the committee should instead plan meetings that coincide with the milestones of the project.

It is a good practice to set meeting dates in advance, thus ensuring the commitment of committee members to attend.

Steering Committee: meetings

At least one week before the meeting, the Project Manager should distribute the necessary documents for the meeting to all the members of the committee.

These should include:

  • An agenda, including the time scheduled for the meeting, so that members can organize their times accordingly.
  • A report from the last meeting, including an updated action list.
  • A report on the status of the project.
  • Any other documents to be considered in the meeting

The chairman of the committee will conduct the meeting according to the agenda, making sure that all members are encouraged to provide input during the meeting.

It is important to check the list of the actions agreed in the previous meeting (if any), confirm the actions taken and the problems solved and find an agreement on how to proceed with actions that have not yet been completed.

As soon as possible, after the meeting, and no later than one week, a report of the meeting should be sent to the members.

This is important to ensure that members move in the same direction and follow the procedures.

The report should, in fact, include the list of actions agreed during the meeting, marked with the name of the „owner“ and the expected timing for its implementation.

Copies of any additional documentation discussed or produced during the meeting should also be included.

Moreover, the details of the next meeting should also be indicated.

 In conclusion, a consideration is here quite clear.

A steering committee is not in charge of running the project in place of the project manager; if, however, the members of the committee have been selected and adequately informed, their involvement and their experience will have a very positive impact on the achievement of the project goal. If we have this in mind, we can understand how this organ can become fundamental in the economy of the project.

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Project Leader vs Project Manager

Project Leader and Project Manager are two terms that are sometimes used interchangeably. But are they really synonymous?

We will see in this article the differences and similarities between this two roles. We will explain their tasks and responsibilities and how important it is to know the difference between the two.

In general, a project leader can be a project manager, but the project manager is hardly a project leader.

However, both are part of a project and make sure that everything is finalized in the best way, even if their roles are not the same.

The difference between Project manager and Project leader

To understand the difference between managers and leaders, it is possible to use some definitions of leadership and management.

John C. Maxwell in his book “The 360 ​​Degree Leader” provided one of the simplest yet profound descriptions of the distinction between a manager and a leader.

He said that managers work with processes, while leaders work with people.

John Paul Kotter goes even further, stating that management involves planning, budgeting, organization, human resources, control and resolution of problems, while leadership involves setting the direction, aligning people, motivating and inspiring the group.

Kotter describes leadership and management as two different complementary action systems, each with their own characteristics and functions.

However, both are necessary for change and for the organization as a whole.

On the basis of these definitions, it can therefore be argued that management is clearly different from leadership.

Leadership is necessary to initiate change, innovate and create new products, systems, and services. Leadership also means motivating people in becoming agents of change, risk managers, and innovators.

Management, on the other hand, deals mainly with the correct and effective functioning of processes.

This does not mean that project managers should not be leaders; on the contrary, to become a good project manager, you need to be a good leader.

Responsibilities of project leaders and project managers

Project leaders and project managers are often considered interchangeable positions in smaller project teams.

However, in larger teams dealing with more complex projects, these professionals must work together in order to keep the project on track.

Project leaders can, for example, use a project budget and motivate team members, while project managers help set the budget based on cost analysis and review team efficiency.

Let‘s take a closer look at the responsibilities and tasks of this two roles.

Project Leader

Probably the most important task for project leaders is to be a link between project team members and company leadership.

In software development teams, project leaders are also known as scrums masters and development sprint leads.

The job responsibilities of a project leader include:

  • Assisting and planning meetings with other leaders, such as the project director.
  • Developing reports on project progress and financial conditions.
  • Testing the product prototypes.
  • Keeping the team focused and motivated
  • Guiding people throughout the project; the project leader is always present in case of problems.
  • Ensuring that the project is carried out in the best possible way.
  • Motivating, giving clues, providing ideas, listening to the team.

In general, the project leader has more freedom than the project manager when it comes to giving orders and controlling people.

In essence, the project leader adds value to the project and the team, gives meaning to the work as a whole and makes people feel that their work is appreciated and important.

In short, the project leader is a spiritual support for the team.

Project Manager

Project managers define the goals of the project after meeting the company leaders and learning the specifications of the requested and commissioned output.

Together with business leaders, the project manager also approves project plans and work orders, prioritizing the tasks.

Moreover, the project managers create a document, similar to a contract, which specifies the plan and the characteristics of the deliverables.

The job responsibilities of a project manager include:

  • Providing quality assurance tests on the final product.
  • Supervisioning of the technical staff.
  • Ensuring that employees adhere to contracts or company policies.
  • Breaking down the project into smaller tasks (WBS – Work Breakdown Structure)
  • Ensuring compliance with deadlines.
  • Taking care of the budget, the program, deadlines, documentation, human resources, etc.
  • Reporting progress; the project manager is responsible for providing updates on project progress and possible obstacles.

 

In a nutshell, the project manager should not motivate people, but keep things organized.

The importance of Project Leader and Project Manager

Being a project manager or project leader requires a lot of work in terms of managing and analyzing data and all information relating to the progress of the team or the organization in general.

Both roles are fundamental for the success of a project and for the motivation of the team.

Since both roles must know and follow every detail of the project carefully, it is extremely important that they have access to all the data.

A leader, like a manager, must act in an intelligent and thoughtful way and that is why he needs to use certain tools to improve the work, such as a project management software. Twproject was built precisely on the basis of the needs of the Project Leaders and Project Managers but also paying close attention to the needs and requirements of the Team. If you haven’t tried it yet, try Twproject now for free (link a https://twproject.com/it/prova-twproject/) and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to use and how Twproject can make things easier for you.

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the resource management

Resource management

Resource Management, or the ability to manage resources useful for the execution of a project, is one of the skills definitely required in the case of a Project Manager.

It is logic that an organization uses different resources for the execution of a single project. These resources typically include people, equipment, information, materials, time, and money. Most organizations, however, have a limited amount of resources available and, therefore, their allocation planning is essential for their effective management and use.

Project resource management involves not only the implementation of internal and external resources necessary for the delivery of a project, but also their procurement.

Having said this, it is obvious that Resource Management focuses primarily on the use of resources, on monitoring their use and productivity, and on measuring the effectiveness of the resources used.

 Plans and Processes for managing the resources of a project

Resource management also involves the creation of plans and processes that facilitate their management and there are several ways to implement them.

For example, one can create spreadsheets, documents, use project management software or use a combination of these three tools.

The main goal, regardless of the method chosen, will always be to successfully manage all the resources until the end of the project.

Let´s see the steps for a good management of project resources.

7 secrets for the good management of project resources

1. Resource estimation

Estimating the need for resources, internal as well as external, is one of the first steps in managing project resources.

One of the most common techniques used for resource estimation is the judgment of the experts, ie the estimate made on the basis of the experience acquired in previous projects.

Here every resource is evaluated, from people to machines and even to any physical space, such as an office, which is needed during the project.

It is necessary to focus well and spend sufficient time at this stage; the more complete the list of resources, the more accurate the program will be.

 2. Data collection

There are some data not only necessary but indispensable for the efficient management of resources in a project. Among the data that should not be missing, we can include:

  • Available resources
  • Requirements for resources
  • How resources will be able to meet the demands

If these details are not deeply investigated, the PM could have serious difficulties in completing the project.

resource management

3. Resource plan

As already mentioned, each project plan must have a separate resource plan that contains various aspects relating to the need, allocation, and use of resources from the beginning to the end of the project.

Just like any other aspect of project management, also when planning resources, you should start with a plan. This will be the basis on which the management process will be built.

In the resource plan, a project manager can create, for example, a hierarchical list of resources needed to complete the project.

Since this is a plan, it is necessary to involve the other members of the project team, too. In fact, some team members may require additional resources.

4. Plan the development of the plan

Planning for development involves setting the start and end dates of all project activities in order to create a final program.

The resource plan, containing the hierarchical distribution of resources, also called Structure Breakdown Structure – RBS, is then combined with the breakdown of project activities. This helps to assign the required resources to each activity more efficiently.

These basic hierarchies should include at least the staff and, preferably, all the resources on which the project budget will be spent, but it is up to the project manager to define which type of hierarchies are relevant for each specific project.

5. Verification of over-allocations

 A project manager must ensure that the over-allocation of any resource is avoided.

The over-allocation occurs when a greater amount of work is assigned to a resource that, consequently, will not be able to complete the activity within the normal working hours.

This can lead to overtime, which will consequently affect the budget, or could even block or derail a project.

It is therefore essential that resources are balanced.

6. Negotiate for resources

Smaller projects generally rely on the organization’s internal resources. In more complex projects, however, resources can easily come from the outside.

This implies that the Project Manager should have excellent negotiating skills in order to obtain the necessary organizational resources, both internal and external, at the best cost.

7. Monitor the work schedule

You need to be able to monitor the hourly and daily availability of individual resources, and keep track of their vacations and absences.

In the case of a remote team, it is also important to take into account the time differences, as well as the various global holidays that may differ from the national holiday calendar.

The team’s workload is another metric that a project manager needs to monitor closely.

If all the work is done by a few team members, while the others are inactive, resources will need to be redistributed.

Another method could be to level the resources, ensuring that the activities are equally distributed within the team

Conclusions

In conclusion, resource management is strongly linked to project management planning.

These are different but complementary disciplines. The more resource management is implemented with a holistic approach, the greater the possibility of being able to act in a timely manner in order to keep the project on track and direct it towards success, respecting the pre-established times and budget.

Therefore, it is necessary for a project manager to have the right tools to have information about the resources while the project is in progress.

Using a Gantt chart provides a visual approach to project activities, durations, and dependencies that link one activity to another.

Other project managers could use an Excel spreadsheet or a specific and more reliable project management tool.

In general, when managing the resources of a project, there are several elements to monitor, and this process can become complicated and confusing.

However, with the right tool, it is possible to plan, monitor, and generate reports on resources with great control and precision.

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how to manage agile team

How to manage an Agile team

Learning to manage an Agile Work Team is not easy. For many companies, becoming more “agile” requires a significant change in the way leaders and managers seek success.

The frameworks of managing projects established as Agile are too often considered as models to copy and paste. But if you really want to work fast, deliver the results in time and achieve the goals, you need to adapt the Agile method to the team.

How an Agile team works

An Agile team is an inter-functional group of autonomous people. The people in the group can deliver the product without having to rely on expertise outside the group.

 

It is indeed a “complete team“. It does not need anything and nobody more in order to carry out the activities.

Agile management has been developed as an alternative to the traditional project management, directed towards an important and unique final result.

The Agile methodology, on the other hand, reduces the goals to different (sub)independent products that can be developed and released quickly.

The two main styles of management of the Agile project are Scrum and Kanban. Both use a tab to view the activities in columns that represent the tasks that have to be done, those in progress and those that have been completed.

There are some features that define an Agile workflow:

  • Daily stand-up: a daily meeting in which contributors and managers discuss the work carried out the previous day, the activities planned for the day, and all the questions that arise.
  • Sprint: short intervals in which the products are planned, developed, reviewed, and released. They are projects within the projects.
  • Periodic and retrospective reviews: an Agile team manages itself, but there are integrated measures to ensure that work is delivered with consistent quality. Periodic reviews take place before activities are completed.

With short intervals of tasks and demanding schedules, an Agile workflow requires a coordinated team.

The roles must be fairly assigned so that people know exactly what they need to do at any time, but flexible enough to allow people to take the initiative and exceed expectations.

The roles within an Agile team

Since an Agile development team must be “everything”, it is important to have the right and defined roles in the group. The most common Agile team roles are:

  • Team Leader. If you are using the Scrum method, this role will be the Scrum Master. The focal point of this figure is to facilitate the work of the team. The Team Leader or Scrum Master is responsible for finding resources for the team and ensures that team members can work safely with everything they need, allowing them to go ahead and do a great job.
  • Product owner. This role is more or less similar to a project sponsor in the case of non-Agile projects. This is the person who represents the interests of the client / stakeholder, ie the person who will own the product on which the Agile team is working.
  • Team member. Any person who is part of the team and / or has something valuable to make in order to successfully complete the deliverables.
  • Tester. Since much of the Agile work is still done in the IT world (Information Technology), software testing is still an important part of the Agile teams. Even in non-IT teams, a figure that can act as a tester could be useful. Because Agile projects are provided incrementally, the test is very important.

On larger teams or specialized products the following figures may also be present:

  • Experts in technical sectors or in other sectors. They may not be entirely part of the team and could be released as needed to support the core team.
  • Architect. The role of the system architect is to ensure that the solution fits into the scope and fits into the rest of the corporate architecture.

manage agile team

Building the Agile team on a solid foundation

Once the team is chosen and structured, it is important to remember that agile teams are like individuals: they need time to grow.

Agile teams go through four key phases as they develop:

  1. Forming: at this stage a very high level of leadership by the project manager is required. Individual roles are still unclear and the processes have yet to be established.
  2. Storming: here we begin to understand how the team’s decisions are made, the purpose is clear but the relationships within the team are still confused
  3. Norming: relationships are now well understood within the team, a general commitment is made to achieve the goals and process optimization begins.
  4. Performing: in this phase the team is at the peak and has reached maturity, therefore it needs little surveillance.

When a change is introduced, such as a new hiring, retirement of a member, etc. The team returns to the forming phase while absorbing the change.

Two pillars that characterize the great Agile teams

  • Continuous Mentoring. One of the great advantages of working in a team is that colleagues learn from each other and help each other. Mentoring is not just an activity for junior members who learn from senior members. All team members learn from each other so that the impact of the team as a whole is greater than the sum of the impact of individual members.
  • Shared skill sets. Shared skills unlock the power of the team to deal with heterogeneous work. Whatever the role, it is always important to learn new skills because it makes an individual more valuable for the organization and better equipped to support the other. This way, team members will always discover new and better ways to perform tasks. This factor will bring forward not only the project, but the entire organization.

Ultimately, the people of an Agile team count as much as the structure and plan of a project.

If people have been addressed and assigned to roles in which they can excel and establish clear standards that make them responsible, it will be possible to obtain not only better products and results, but a team and an organization that improves measurably with each project.

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