Project Management — 7 Keys in Handling Change Requests



Project managers must know how to deal with change, if they want to successfully complete their projects.

So, the consideration and implementation of requested changes need to be properly controlled.

Requested changes have to be analyzed in order to accurately determine their impact on the project’s goals.

ID-100113717 stockimagesOf course, all details need to be documented for a paper trail.

To manage requests for change, here are seven recommended steps:

1. Reach an agreement in advance for handling change requests.

Before any project launch, there has to be agreement on how to process and manage change requests. That’s the best way to be prepared.

All stakeholders need to be aware that requests for changes won’t be lightly regarded because of how the project will be affected.

2. Make certain you get specifics.

The person making the request should be thorough with written specificity. Certainly, the details should include all additional expenses.

3. Revise the change log.

Note the request on the change log.

4. Evaluate the requested change.

Make a balance sheet of the pros and cons — whether or not to implement the change. Listen to the person making the request. But have it understood that you will make the decision regarding the priority of the change request.

5. Decide on your course of action.

Approve or refuse the request. Communicate your decision and course of action to all stakeholders. Make sure to update the change log including the reasoning for the change. This naturally pertains to all of your project’s paperwork.

6. Prioritize the requested change.

Determine its importance in the scope of the project. The simple question to answer is “how important is it?”

7. Follow through on the details.

Make sure to properly manage all details of the change. Explain the rationale — the benefits — to every affected person to make certain they’re on board, and delegate accordingly.

From the Coach’s Corner, related content:

Leadership and Planning Tips for Successful Project Management — In truth, projects fail because they’re not managed. The project manager must possess 11 leadership attributes to manage the team, stay on track and keep within budget.

6 Types of Ineffective Project Managers — Poor performing project managers generally have one of six traits, according to technology author Phil Simon.

4 Ways to Solve 6 Uncertainties in Project Management — Seemingly negative surprises have often been perceived as insurmountable, but that’s not always the situation in project management.

To Win in Project Management, Tap Emotional Intelligence — Automated project-management models might be popular, but they don’t lead to the championship-quality results.

Change, like sunshine, can be a friend or a foe, a blessing or a curse, a dawn or a dusk.”

-William Arthur Ward


 __________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photos courtesy of stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

To Win in Project Management, Tap Emotional Intelligence

 
 
Automated project-management models might be popular, but they don’t lead to the championship-quality results.

Project managers achieve greater success and long-term sustainability by leveraging emotional intelligence. Yes, mastering emotions makes it possible to motivate employees to higher performances. There are two types of emotional intelligence. (More on that later.)

Meantime, is emotional intelligence always helpful? No. It depends. Emotional intelligence can have a downside.

ID-10066439 AmbroFor example:

When managers or employees hide their feelings and strategically use their skills for personal gain by manipulating others.

As a result of such political environments, project team members lose their abilities to reason.

Leaders use emotional intelligence — to develop their vision and in management of their teams — for execution of strategies in project management to realize higher performances.

Conversely, typical managers might be capable of developing promising strategies, but they only reach satisfactory results from execution. Why?

They don’t leverage the potential of emotional intelligence in their workplace teams by encouraging open, emotional expression.

Consequently, they don’t motivate their teams to effectively execute strategies for the best outcomes.

Worse, some tend to hire people who aren’t assertive and who are reluctant to tell bosses about looming issues and obstacles to organization success.

Nor do such managers understand their workplace collective emotions — the feelings of their groups of employees.

If new initiatives and projects aren’t popular among employees, the water-cooler gossip leads to a negative group-think which can be quite damaging and can even lead to the downfall of projects.

So, what are the results? The outcomes are tantamount to strategy without execution for average results.

Leaders use emotional intelligence — to develop their vision and in management of their teams — for execution of strategies in project management to realize higher performances.

Steps to greater success

The process starts for managers by learning more about emotional intelligence. After studying it, they follow with a self-examination of their communication practices and body language — checking to see if they create barriers between themselves and their teams.

Managers can then increase their chances for success in their visions — improving the culture’s climate — by inspiring an environment of open communication.

Naturally, employee freedom of emotional expression must neither offend the sensitivities of team members nor hurt the welfare of the organization.

However, if managers better understand their own emotional intelligence and their teams’ collective emotions and encourage freedom in emotional expression, they’ll improve their odds of identifying and managing negative emotions for superior results from execution.

Projects can be more successful by identifying and communicating with appropriate emotional values — as a complement to automated project-management models.

From the Coach’s Corner, related content:

6 Types of Ineffective Project Managers — Poor performing project managers generally have one of six traits, according to technology author Phil Simon. Actually, his insights are applicable for any type of manager. Pulling no punches, Mr. Simon’s commentary, “Bad Project Managers: 6 Archetypes,” was published in InformationWeek. 

Leadership and Planning Tips for Successful Project Management — In truth, projects fail because they’re not managed. Yes, there are varying degrees, but in reality they’re either managed or they’re not. The project manager must possess 11 leadership attributes to manage the team, stay on track and keep within budget. 

4 Ways to Solve 6 Uncertainties in Project Management —  Seemingly negative surprises have often been perceived as insurmountable, but that’s not always the situation in project management. By innovatively spotting opportunities in uncertainties, the results often exceed initial expectations in budgeting, quality and scheduling. That’s the lesson according to an academic report. 

How to Grow Your EI for Leadership Success — Emotional intelligence (EI) is important for communication and leadership. A person who has EI is able to evaluate, understand, and control emotions.

To Sell Ideas to Senior Executives, Tap into Their Emotions — If you want to persuade a senior executive, polish your soft skills. Whether you’re trying to sell your ideas to your CEO or you’re trying to sell to a key decision maker at another company, big data is important. But data isn’t the most important factor in persuading senior executives.

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”

 -Dale Carnegie

 
 

 __________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 

 
 
 
 
Photo courtesy or Ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net

6 Types of Ineffective Project Managers



Poor performing project managers generally have one of six traits. This, according to technology author Phil Simon.

Actually, his insights are applicable for any type of manager.

Pulling no punches, Mr. Simon’s commentary, “Bad Project Managers: 6 Archetypes,” was published in the November 2013 issue of InformationWeek.

As the author of “Too Big To Ignore: The Business Case For Big Data,” Mr. Simon nailed it.

From my consultant’s perspective, he adroitly describes the six types of project managers who unproductively go about their work.

tutor-606091_1280Excerpts of his categories:

1. The Yes-Man (with my apologies for the label’s implied sexism)

“Certain PMs fear conflict and agree to ev­ery demand that internal clients or senior management make,” he writes.

“But by failing to confront those with wildly different expectations, yes-men implicitly make promises and commitments that endanger entire projects,” he concludes.

2. The Micromanager

“Micromanagers need to let experienced consultants do their jobs,” he asserts.

“Depending on the timing, a PM might have to live with a high-level explanation of an issue,” he writes. “Should the mi­cromanager need more detail, she should bring consultants to steering committee meetings or have them write status reports providing more specifics.”

3. The Procrastinator

“The procrastinator often ducks clients and does not deliver promised results such as updated project plans, documentation or status updates,” he indicates.

“In such cases, people are likely to lose faith in the consulting firm and its individual consultants, whether the latter are contributing to the delays or not,” Mr. Simon warns. “The best PMs know when to use each tool in their kits.”

4. The Know-It-All

“Although being able to speak intelligently about issues is hardly a liability, PMs who do not engage their teams at key points do a number of inimical things,” he asserts.

“For one, they can alienate their consulting teams and make team members less likely to broach issues with them in the future,” he writes.

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”

-Peter Drucker

“Second, by routinely not involving the experts, know-it-alls effectively minimize the contribution of those consultants, possibly causing clients to question the need for those consultants in the first place,” Mr. Simon explains. “Unless the consultant was specifi­cally hired in a hybrid role of consultant/PM, that individual should routinely involve the implementation team throughout the project.”

5. The Pollyanna

“Some PMs new to projects with large scopes are ecstatic when the project makes any progress at all,” he writes.

“…Pollyannas focus on trying to make everyone feel good about the current state. In this sense, they are like yes-men,” he contends. “PMs need to be able to call a spade a spade and not worry about sugar­coating dire situations.”

6. The Pessimist

“Pessimists fail to appreciate the gains that a team and its individuals have made in the face of considerable obstacles,” Mr. Simon writes.

“Sometimes PMs need to play the role of good cop, bad cop, shrink, confidant and devil’s advocate,” he admits. “Other times, they need to stroke the egos of key people or use project management techniques to move the initia­tive forward.” 

From the Coach’s Corner, recommended reading:  

4 Ways to Solve 6 Uncertainties in Project Management — Seemingly negative surprises have often been perceived as insurmountable, but that’s not always the situation in project management. By innovatively spotting opportunities in uncertainties, the results often exceed initial expectations in budgeting, quality and scheduling. 

Leadership and Planning Tips for Successful Project Management — In truth, projects fail because they’re not managed. Yes, there are varying degrees, but in reality they’re either managed or they’re not. The project manager must possess 11 leadership attributes to manage the team, stay on track and keep within budget. 

Best Practices for Many Companies Failing to Capitalize on Business Intelligence — A large number of business intelligence (BI) users admit they don’t effectively use it to identify and create opportunities for sustainable growth, according to a study. Their honesty isn’t surprising, but the high level of misused BI is.

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”

-Peter Drucker


 __________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Image courtesy www.freedigitalphotos.net

4 Ways to Solve 6 Uncertainties in Project Management



Seemingly negative surprises have often been perceived as insurmountable, but that’s not always the situation in project management.

By innovatively spotting opportunities in uncertainties, the results often exceed initial expectations in budgeting, quality and scheduling.

That’s the lesson according to an academic report published in 2013.

“Challenging Classic Project Management: Turning Project Uncertainties into Business Opportunities” was authored by Thomas G. Lechler, Stevens Institute of Technology; Barbara H. Edington, St. Francis College; and Ting Gao, Stevens Institute of Technology.

The publisher is the Project Management Journal, vol. 43, no. 6. It was summarized by Booz & Company at strategy-business.com.

The researchers delved into 20 major projects that encountered at least three negative surprises.

They ranged in duration from eight months to three years with budgets between $500,000 and $69 million.

More than 50 percent focused on IT or product development.

Others included:

— Business realignment projects

— Clinical trials

— Construction

— Feasibility studies

–Market prediction models

— R&D

Researchers concluded there are six types of surprises to confront:

1. Contextual turbulence: external changes set off by shifts in the markets, for example, or new legal or regulatory rules

2. Stakeholder fluctuations: shifts in the fortunes of customers, vendors, investors, and others

3. Technological uncertainty: factors that can affect the functionality of products in different markets, among other challenges

4. Project uncertainty: unrecognized complexities that crop up after a project has started

5. Organizational uncertainty: ripple effects from unexpected corporate mergers or spin-offs, for example

6. Malpractice: significant deviations from accepted project management standards

According to the authors, project managers evaluated the surprises in these ways: Were they used as positive developments or not? What were the unexploited opportunities?

Sixty percent of the project managers dealt effectively with 75 percent of the surprises for strong results. They “led to a redefinition of a project’s initial baseline,” wrote the researchers. Fifty-eight percent identified positive financial returns.

The benefits included: Spotting new initiatives, developing new process and applying new technologies.

Four types of opportunities

For a “broader range of potential opportunities,” the researches recommend focusing on four groups:

1. Technical innovation. When negative surprises rear their ugly heads, don’t give up. Look for new testing solutions to save money that will also serve as an inexpensive model for future initiatives.

2. Implementation processes. In the event of a surprise, don’t panic. Develop a less-complex method to save money and time. Research showed post-implementation problems decreased by 75 percent.

3. New business. In one case study, a sponsor retired which led to lack of interest in the project. So, the project managers rolled up their sleeves and networked their way to a new sponsor. The new backer facilitated an opening to a larger audience, which meant new business opportunities.

4. Future projects. Once you solve a problem in a department, look for ways to apply the solution in different departments. One of the businesses solved a challenge in implementing software, and used the process for other successes.

Again, the project managers weren’t successful in all cases. For example, one situation lacked a tracking system. A second case led to an unfortunate conclusion because of a surprise merger that resulted in staff duplication of effort.

Senior management’s role

For success, the authors said “exceptional and innovative decisions” necessitate involvement of all stakeholders, especially senior executives.

“In these situations,” wrote the authors, “project managers should take the role of champions and use their communication skills to bring these opportunities to the decision-making level.”

Agreed. It’s important for project managers to manage the boss for better performance.

The researchers also discouraged traditional risk-management thinking by senior managers.

“In situations of uncertainty,” concluded the authors, “the adherence to a baseline that was defined without the knowledge of uncertainty could lead to neglected opportunities, forsaken value opportunities, and consequently the potential for project failure.”

True, there are eight best practices in setting goals to alleviate uncertainty.

Things aren’t always as they seem, so look for ways to benefit from adversity – even the apparent obstacles to success in project management.

From the Coach’s Corner, recommended reading:

Leadership and Planning Tips for Successful Project Management –In truth, projects fail because they’re not managed. Yes, there are varying degrees, but in reality they’re either managed or they’re not. The project manager must possess 11 leadership attributes to manage the team, stay on track and keep within budget.

18 Valuable Tips to Win in Office Politics — Most people troubled by office politics are too focused on the behavior of their adversaries. Stop giving away your personal power. Don’t think or act like a victim. Here are 18 valuable tips to win in office politics.

How to Eliminate Destructive Conflict for Better Teamwork — There are two types of conflict. For better teamwork and higher performance, it’s true that constructive conflict works. Usually, the best ideas evolve when ideas are discussed and debated. But when employees fail to exercise self control and their egos get in the way, emotions flare and cliques are formed in the workplace. That’s destructive conflict.

“We will either find a way, or make one.”

-Hannibal


__________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Leadership and Planning Tips for Successful Project Management



In truth, projects fail because they’re not managed. Yes, there are varying degrees, but in reality they’re either managed or they’re not.

The project manager must possess 11 leadership attributes to manage the team, stay on track and keep within budget.

History shows one of the planet’s leading “project managers”, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was the ideal person to end Nazi tyranny as general in World War II and to protect Americans as president in the 1950’s cold war.

Dwight Eisenhower - Wikimedia CommonsHe’s famous for saying: “You don’t lead by hitting people over the head. That’s assault, not leadership.”

Following his example, consider the traits of a successful project manager:

1. Leads with optimism and coaching ability, encourages celebration of milestones

2. Knows how to prioritize on details

3. Is flexible, evaluates, and fine-tunes when necessary with contingency plans

4. Asks astute, open-ended questions

5. Communicates well, which means being a good listener to all stakeholders

6. Is transparent and connotes respect by trusting the team

7. Maintains schedules, especially in communications

8. Has a deep strategic awareness of the project

9. Strikes a balance – encourages consensus building but successfully manages conflict

10. Has assertive relationships with employees and outside participants to insure success from networking when problems occur

11. Stays ahead of the curve in personal education and training

Of course, project management must start with an effective planning of the course of action to avoid derailing or unnecessary challenges.

In essence, successful planning results in three elements: 1. Project definition. 2. Work plan. 3. Procedures.

“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head. That’s assault, not leadership.”

-Dwight D. Eisenhower

The 11 project-management strategies for success:

1. The project manager must be inspire and lead. That means possessing the 11 traits mentioned above. Anticipate the lows of your proverbial roller-coaster ride, and lead the team to a successful conclusion. Encourages celebrations of milestones.

2. Lay the foundation. Input and acceptance of the project definition by salient stakeholders are necessary. Make sure there’s universal awareness of all their concerns and expectations of success. Develop a work plan and procedures. Establish goals and benchmarks that are measurable. Be results-oriented, keep schedules to be on time, and stay within budget. Define the responsibilities for each team member.

3. Ascertain the project team’s requisite obligations. The selected individual members should participate based on their personalities, skills and talents. They should thoroughly understand their roles and how they fit in the overall scheme. The traits of each person should be leveraged so that they’re integrated for the success of the project.

4. Identify the significant events in the project’s life cycle. It consists of an introduction, preparation,  implementation and conclusion. Define the salient milestones and outcomes. Continually monitor developments to allay undesired changes and risks.

5. Adhere to the communications plan. Constant communication with the team and other stakeholders is crucial. It must also be transparent and timely.

6. Document all salient matters. There are always unexpected developments. Everyone should sign off on the documentation so that you’re all on the same page and stakeholders are adequately informed in the event of surprises. The paper trail must entail all deliverables and expectations.

7. Emphasize risk management. Anticipate and manage all vulnerabilities. Always be prepared with contingency plans. With proper planning, good communication will help identify surprises and manage threats.

8. Test and continue to test. At each stage of the project, test the deliverables. That means measuring results and validating assumptions.

9. Eschew mission creep. Stay focused on the priorities. However, if you need to make changes, OK, but there are precautions to take – appropriate documentation for all salient parties to sign. Move forward after you get approval regarding budget, resources and timing concerns.

10. Conclude the project. Once you’ve met or exceeded expectations of  the stakeholders, you’re almost done.

11. Recap your project. Now, it’s assessment time. Evaluate the lessons from the project – as a whole and its miscellaneous modules. Consider all high and low points. Use your conclusions as opportunities in your next project.

From the Coach’s Corner, additional articles on leadership:

“Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.”

-Will Rogers


 __________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.