I’ve trained and coached many project managers over the years, as well as teach thousands in their pursuit to achieve their PMP© or CAPM© certification. One thing I’ve learned is that there are a few things that truly differentiate a project leader from a project manager. Those that can achieve “leadership” are in high demand and have the ability to truly effect change throughout an organization. In this blog post, I look into a few things to master if you want to be a leader:
As you begin managing projects, you experience certain tools and techniques and approaches that work for you and the projects you manage. You get used to using these tools and you become very proficient. Then one day—BAM! A tool you’ve used for years doesn’t work as well with this new client and the project struggles. What happened?...
Are you trying to make your mark in your organization? Are you trying to figure out how to get noticed? Are you pondering what you can do to prepare yourself for a promotion?
Project management skills are critical to successfully delivering strategy within organizations. Those who have strong project management skills GET THINGS DONE and that is what gets you noticed!
If you are just starting out, the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) certification, can be your doorway to future success.
Communicating in today’s world has become ever more virtual. I literally can sit at my desk and “work” with others around the globe, without ever picking up the phone or opening up the mail. If I look back at the 1980s when I started my professional career, we were just starting to get computers in offices and the internet was non-existent to the average person. With all these great advances, I still struggle with one simple truth—face-to-face is irreplaceable.
In many ways, your balance is often impacted by the role that you play within an organization. There have been many times that I personally have experienced Murphy’s law. It seemed that just when I planned to do something for myself, someone else’s issue interferes with my plans. So how can we keep this from happening?
As a manager of project managers and project management trainers, I continually am searching the market for qualified individuals to deliver projects, or project management training, and I am still amazed as to how many people in the project management profession are not aware of or, have not committed to obtaining their certifications.
Communication Rule #1 – Know your definitions
Every day I hear people talk about a project plan that they have and when I ask for an example what I get from them is a list of tasks with a start and end day and an owner. The problem is that a popular scheduling software tool identifies the files with an extension *.mpp which confuses people in calling the schedule a plan.
Problems often occur on projects when communication isn’t clear. Too often I hear people interchange the words project management plan and schedule. Those who know the definitions would understand that these are very different things.
If you agree to deliver a project management plan to your client who understands the terminology, and you deliver a gantt chart schedule, your client will not be satisfied.
Let’s compare these two terms:
An example of a Schedule Management subsidiary plan is below:
An example of an actual schedule would be:
As you can see, a project plan is more about the scope of work, intended outcomes and benefits, whereas a schedule is the pathway to get you there. Typically, the project plan comes first and the schedule is created based upon that project plan.
Know industry terminology and reduce miscommunications.
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In 2012, Florida-based Core Performance Concepts (CPC) and Ohio-based Max Technical Training (MAX) began working together to bring a Project Management course offering to MAX students. It has proven to be a partnership that has led to hundreds of qualified, certified Project Management Professionals (PMP®) realizing successful careers.
Studies have shown that most people cannot effectively multi-task, which for many means doing two things at once. One task is subconscious and one is a conscious task. Think walking & talking or listening to music while writing a paper. One activity takes your attention while the other is in the background. You may be able to remember which songs were playing, but if you were listening to a talk show, would you remember the questions asked and answered? Probably not.
Interpersonal skills are critical to the overall success of project managers. Achieving a PMP certification is the only the first step in achieving career success. The tactical skills of project management are important, as well as having a well-defined repeatable process so you can employ these best practices again and again.
Research from the Project Management Institute (PMI) shows that the “top two percent of project managers, as designated by their bosses and team members, distinguish themselves by demonstrating superior relationship and communication skills while displaying a positive attitude.” That’s why the latest edition of the PMI PMBOKâ Guide emphasizes the importance of good interpersonal skills, and why our best-selling study guide Achieve PMPâ Exam Success, 6th Edition covers many of the key interpersonal skills needed for delivering projects.
They’ve worked hard to get to this point in their lives. Being able to add the PMPâ designation to their name and title can translate into greater success and a more rewarding career. So, it’s natural that they’re feeling a bit stressed about taking the certification exam. But they don’t need to sweat it. Here are some tips to keep your students cool and collected:
Today was not like ANY other. Today I got to see, first hand, the benefit our programs bring to individuals, to companies and to society at large.
Did you know that it costs an average of $78.95 per day to keep an inmate locked up which is more than 20 times the cost of a day on probation?
Did you know that over 40% of all inmates released, nationally, return to prison within 3 years. If we could reduce the recidivism rates by just 10 percent nationally, we could save more than $635 million in averted prison costs in one year alone!
January of this year, we, Core Performance Concepts, embarked on a venture with a California prison to bring a comprehensive program which included a focus on the inmate "psychi" (how they think that got them here) along with project management curriculum, providing them marketable skills that can help them succeed. The program is planned for 10 months and our first graduates will be heading out to the workforce soon.
I met six men today and could not have been more proud. They were all highly intelligent, articulate and very committed to what they were doing. The topic this week was on Communication and we had such a great dialog around how to communicate in a business setting and how to strategize on your communication depending upon the stakeholder analysis that was developed. All of them know that they made mistakes and are learning how to stop the cycle and make good strategic decisions about their actions and their lives.
One gentleman is scheduled to be released in the next month after 16 years of incarceration. He was nervous and excited at the same time. Through this program, he has come to realize that how he was thinking before wasn't an appropriate way to think in our society today. He has a job lined up and wanted to know if it is ok to "volunteer" for projects when he starts his job. What these guys need is confidence that they CAN earn a good living without having to resort to crime. We are giving them the tools to succeed.
Three others will be paroled within the next 4 months and I can't wait to hear how they are doing. What an amazing transformation to see!
A business analyst is a key resource for any project. There could be one analyst on the team, or many. The role of the business analyst is truly to determine alternative solutions in solving business problems, and to validate that the solution actually delivered on expectations.
When we think of successful companies, we think of those that have been able to deliver on what they promised. When organizations don't, is when they struggle. If you look deeper, that failure was probably due to the organization or project team taking their eye off the goal and ended up delivering something that wasn't aligned with expectations. Unfortunately, this happens all the time! You have to gain control of how your strategic projects are being executed and you do this through excellence in business analysis skills.
Do you have analysts in your organization that are focused on seeing your initiative actually achieved the results you expected? The need for business analysts around the globe is expected to increase nearly 20% over the next 10 years.
There is a new certification available through the Project Management Institute, called the PMI-PBA certification.
Have your team take our sample quiz to test their skills and see if they have what it takes to be a certified Business Analyst.
This week during our free webinars we have been discussing the value of using the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in gaining commitment from our customers.
We polled our audience to see what their concerns are, and much of the feedback had to do with convincing management and/or the customer, that the development of a comprehensive WBS is worth the effort. If you believe that the primary job of a project manager is communication, then the WBS is a critical communication tool, outlining the deliverables of the project and ensuring that the customer understands the work necessary to deliver on the goals and objectives of the project.
Read this report , It highlights that for every $1 billion dollars spent on projects, nearly $75 million is wasted due to poor communication. So this basically means that if you have a project valued at $100,000, then $7,500 will be wasted out of the gate for miss communications. Can you afford this?
The WBS gives us an opportunity early on in the project and throughout the execution phases to ensure that the entire team understands the deliverables and any sub-components of those deliverables. Consider it your blue-print for the project. Would you build a house without a comprehensive blue-print? and if you did, how would that house turn out?
I read the article listed below the other day. I really agree with what Mark Rafalski is saying, because he is supporting everything I believe in. In this article he writes that a large portion of short-term acute care hospitals today are experiencing operating losses. He recommends three ways in which these organizations can improve and reduce the bleeding (pun intended).
I agree that organizations must have a strategy to succeed. Especially when market conditions are changing significantly, if you stand still you will fail.
I agree that organizations, not just hospitals, have challenges in the execution of strategy. Statistics say that nearly 45% of all strategic initiatives fail and a large portion of those are due to execution and communication deficiencies, which is where strong project management can certainly help.
I also agree that accountability is key. For any of you that have read Patrick Lencione's book -- The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, you know that high performing teams hold themselves accountable; however, you can't become high performing until trust is established.
So how do projects actually kill someone? The article states that over 35% of short-term acute care hospitals are experiencing operating losses. What causes these losses and what are the unintended consequences of these losses?
Based on my experiences working 15 years in the workers' compensation managed care arena, and an additional 10 years with organizations of all types around the country, EVERY organization has "improvement" projects they are working on. When these projects are delayed, thru mismanagement of scope or resources, organizations cannot achieve the strategic initiatives they have defined. When organizations don't achieve these initiatives, they will overspend to the budget that was planned based on the initiatives being achieved. When budgets overrun, the money has to come from somewhere. Tightening the belt usually results in organizations reducing spending on equipment and training, and reducing staff and particularly the nursing budget.
Now let's look at an acute care hospital. The failure of projects to deliver on strategic initiatives CAN have an impact on patient care. Maybe the new equipment that could help better diagnose specific diseases doesn't get purchased because of lack of funds, or maybe minimizing staff per shift causes tired employees to miss some underlying symptoms, causing a delay in treatment.
So next time you are working on a project and you think it is ok to move the delivery date out, you might want to think twice about how NOT delivering your project on time could have an impact on your ultimate customer.
You know that teaching a project management course could be the key to advancing both your career and the careers of those you teach. Teaching can be a positive and invaluable experience for you and allow you to give back to the profession you love.
In a recent survey, Core Performance Concepts students identified two key factors that are critical to course quality—the experience of the instructor and that instructor’s ability to facilitate the course. What this means is that to deliver a quality course, the instructor should focus more on how they deliver the program and less on creating the content for the course.
Let’s look at a few statistics. Based on a study by the ChapmanAlliance, creating 1 hour of quality instructor-led content takes over 40 hours of effort and nearly $6000. (http://leanforward.com/cost-to-create-elearning/) If you are asked to create a course for your customer or organization, is this where you want to spend your time? There is a better way.
Core Performance Concepts has the proven curriculum that allows you to quickly and easily provide the content necessary, so YOU can spend your valuable time preparing to facilitate an EXCELLENT program.
Still not convinced? Complete this simple calculation to see how much you might be spending to design your next course:
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I just read another blog this morning and felt compelled to respond. Take a look at Dave's Post and here is my response. I'd love to hear from you too.
What a great post. In my company, I teach our business process improvement course and have your exact philosophy. It isn't the pretty picture that is important. It is the thought process that each worker needs to have in order to effectively improve a process.
I am frustrated constantly when organizations want the "buzz" word class. They want "lean", or "six sigma" or back when I started my career "TQM", thinking that there are tools that can be used to make their organization more effective.
The reality is that it is the culture that needs to change and that the organization MUST be committed to continual business process improvement. It's not sexy like these other words, but business process improvement is at the core of all these buzz words.
Imagine a world where each worker says "hmmm, if I change my process, who else downstream would be impacted, and would it improve the overall process or hurt it?"
Great post Dave.
Anyone who has managed projects for a few years, can appreciate what it takes to "close" a project and obtain that elusive client sign-off.
This month's Advanced Topics webinar is about how some people can "get things done" while others seem to hold onto projects for way too long.
I equate the challenge of closing projects with that of closing a sale--unless you get that signature on the contract, you aren't succeeding.
A recent statistic by the Project Management Institute reported that over 45% of all strategic initiatives are not realized! I would probably guess that most of that is due to delaying delivery of strategic initiatives. Think about it this way. If you have a new product that you want to get to market and you miss delivering it to the market by 1 month, how much lost revenue did you just experience? Or think of it this way. If you are delivering software to a client and the target go live date is June 30th and you don't go live for 2 months after the initial date, your company will not see the revenues for this project in the 2nd quarter as expected.
Think about what happens in your organization today and let's discuss on August 27th about ways we can help improve the delivery of strategic projects and GET THINGS DONE!!
You'll learn the reasons why closing projects is hard and some techniques that you can use to increase your successes.