BrightWork Launches the 2nd Edition of Their Collaborative Project Management Handbook

Today, BrightWork launched the second edition of their book, Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook. In recent years there has been a shift away from the traditional managerial hierarchies to a much more collaborative approach to managing projects, which emphasizes teamwork and cooperation. With that in mind, BrightWork last year published the first edition of their Collaborative Project Management handbook to outline the processes, resources, and leadership skills required to manage projects collaboratively with a team. In this new edition, they have built on the practical guidance in the first book and introduced a three-step framework for implementing collaborative project management in any organization (Collaborate – Lead – Evolve). Speaking about the new edition, Éamonn McGuinness, CEO of BrightWork and book author, explained, “Modern, effective project management is about collaborative project management. It’s people working together, enjoying the journey on the way to an agreed, better destination.” He added that “The handbook is intended as a practical resource for new or accidental project managers, team members, and experienced project managers who need to coach new managers.” What’s inside this expanded edition? This second edition expands on the first version of the handbook and adds: A new 3-step Collaborative Project Management Framework with suggested implementation steps An expanded section on leadership, with new chapters covering Personal Leadership and Situational Leadership.   Praise for…

How to Be an Effective Project Manager in the IT Industry [Guest Post]

What distinguishes mediocre managers from high-quality ones? Mediocre managers are unwilling to do what they expect their employees to do. High-quality managers never ask their employees to do something they themselves would never do. Employees trust the manager who values them as an equal. A strict work hierarchy creates a toxic environment for innovation and job satisfaction. Being a high-quality manager is something that many people are ill-suited for. Why? Once they get to their coveted promotion, they live it big and ignore those under them. Avoid Incompetence Do not be a manager who imitates the failures in management around you. Set an example of integrity and excellence that your employees trust. An important thing to keep in mind are the 7 Habits that Stephen Covey pioneered. The 7 Habits can be applied to transform your workforce. Stephen Covey spoke of how the most effective people put values above impulses. The most ineffective people live entirely on impulses. Make sure that your value foundation is a healthy one by learning from those around you. If you are not taking responsibility for your life, then your employees will not either. What matters most is your example, not your words.   Have…

Make Collaborative Project Management Easier with the Right Tool

Someone once said ‘All right stop, collaborate and listen’. Now if you know your 80s music, you are probably wondering why I’m starting with a quote from Vanilla Ice! Setting aside questionable musical tastes, he has a point. Project teams can only collaborate efficiently by making time to do so. Managers and team members often need to stop, take a step back to figure out what is happening with the project, and listen to each other before moving forward. Sounds easy? There is a catch; many organizations don’t have a central project management tool to make this happen. Let’s take a look at this problem and a solution in more detail (with a little more inspiration from 80s music!).   ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ The lack of a central project management tool creates numerous challenges for project teams such as: Stakeholders need more reports and meetings to stay up-to-date Remote workers are left out of the loop, and struggle to stay on track as the project changes Key files are stored in different locations and formats, making it impossible to know if you have the correct version. Excel is especially tricky to use for project management for this reason!…

How to Use Emotional Intelligence for Enhanced Team Collaboration

If you needed to improve your team’s overall productivity, what would you do? I imagine you may develop project templates; invest in some time-management training; create a collaborative project site; delegate work; help your team prioritize and communicate more efficiently, and so on. Each activity is certainly useful and worth undertaking. But what if these endeavors don’t pay off? Developing an emotionally intelligent team could provide the solution. Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to an individual’s ability to recognize their emotions and understand how these emotions impact on others. An emotionally intelligent team relates to the ability of a group to manage and harness emotions for positive outcomes. An emotionally intelligent team is not simply a combination of individual emotional intelligence and self-awareness, but rather, the result of active team development. Read on to learn more! Daniel Goleman, Working with Emotional Intelligence As noted by Daniel Goleman in his 1998 work, Working with Emotional Intelligence*, each of us only has part of the information and skills we need to do our jobs. We depend on the group mind – the collective experiences, skills, and knowledge within the team – to complete tasks, making collaboration essential to project and organizational success. Indeed, research indicates organizations…

9 Survival Tips for Accidental Project Managers

The title of ‘project manager’ is no longer just confined to those with industry certifications or who have chosen a career in project management. Changes in technology, shifting business needs, and a move towards increased collaboration means that many of us will need to manage projects to be successful in our roles. We will become ‘the accidental project manager’, often parachuted in to take ownership of a project with little or no notice. When confronted with my first major project as a marketer, I failed quite badly! I had no formal project management training and there were no templates or standardized approaches to projects within my organization. I never really thought about project management before then. I still cringe when I think of the mistakes I made! To help you avoid common pitfalls facing the accidental project manager, I asked some of the BrightWork team for their tips and advice. Here’s what they had to say.   1. Planning ”You may want to jump right in and start working, but how do you know you are working on the right tasks?  It’s important to take a breath, assess the goals, and break them down into achievable steps.  Create a plan…

What can Project Managers Learn from Space Exploration Programs?

The human pursuit of the final frontier has been an incredible source of wonder and inspiration for us all over the last number of decades. The imagination, ambition, and dedication displayed by these teams in achieving what was once inconceivable is a magnificent example to all who pursue their goals. For project managers especially, this could be considered the very pinnacle of the discipline. With such high risks and demands, the methods and successes and failures of these pioneers can inform our own project management practices and provide invaluable insights. Here are three projects from high-pressure space programs that project managers can really learn from. 1. Failed Collaboration: NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter burns up in the Martian Atmosphere Source The $125 million satellite was supposed to be the first weather observer on another world. However, a simple communication error and a lack of fact checking led to the orbiter disappearing entirely without ever providing any results. The engineers at Lockheed Martin, who constructed the orbiter, expressed their calculations in ‘pounds’ of pressure’; however, it was standard practice at NASA to use a conversion to ‘newtons’ to do these calculations. The difference in figures caused the craft to travel far too close…

How to Overcome Low Employee Engagement Levels

Attracting, retaining, and engaging employees is becoming an increasing challenge for organizations, which in turn, impacts on project delivery. Employee engagement is used to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of an organization’s approach to human resource management. An “engaged employee” is defined as one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests. A disengaged worker is likely to be unenthusiastic about their job, finding little meaning or value in their role; they are also uninterested in improving the company’s reputation. Collins (2001) declared that the top performing companies prioritize getting the right people in the company before deciding vision, strategy, organization structure and even business tactics. However, the challenge for organizations is to keep employees at a high level of engagement throughout their tenure. This article outlines engagement challenges and success factors, including employee feedback.   Engagement Challenges Gallup’s 142 country study on the State of the Global Workplace (2012) found that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. In other words, only one in eight workers, roughly 180 million employees in the countries studied are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be…

Leverage Change Management for Better Projects

If you’re in an organization and you want to do something new, strategic, exciting, challenging or difficult – it’s a project. A project is a way to transform an organization or a group. The essence of project management is change, something individuals will resist for many reasons. They prefer the status quo; they are fearful about job security; they may think they will be unable to learn something new. Realizing the benefits of project deliverables is not as simple as completing assigned tasks and assuming users will embrace the end solution. You must manage the ‘people’ side of the change to ensure that the outcomes are implemented. In this piece, I will explain the role of change management, how it relates to project management, and practical approaches for managing change.   Project Management and Change Management Before going much further, it’s important to understand the difference between project and change management, and how these strategies overlap. Project Management refers to the use of people, processes and methodologies to plan, initiate, execute, monitor and close activities. A project is temporary in nature with a defined start and end date. Projects are once-off endeavors with a specific set of required deliverables. Change…

Using SharePoint for Project Management – An Overview

Microsoft SharePoint is an amazing collaborative platform that can be easily configured to provide a more coordinated environment to track and manage a project with your team. One of the biggest benefits of using SharePoint for project management is that each project site can be set up to match and expose your project management processes. We’ll see what this looks like and how you might get started in this blog.   Free Download: Two Project Management Templates for SharePoint and Office 365   Collaborative Project Sites in SharePoint Below is an example of what an out-of-the-box SharePoint site can look like when configured for project management. Using SharePoint sites to manage a project helps you bring all project information together in one collaborative environment. The project homepage (pictured above), for example, gives you a straightforward dashboard that shows you how the project is doing with a summary of work, goals, project status, and so on. The links on the left hand side make up the Quick Launch of your different processes. The Quick Launch can be tailored so the grouping and taxonomy mimics the PM process you use in your organization. All of the processes you need can be built…

How to Manage Difficult Conversations with Team Members

Conflict, personality clashes, and other challenges will arise in project teams for many reasons. This can lead to difficult conversations between you, the project manager, and individual team members. These conversations are daunting and unpleasant but often necessary to address the situation, protect team morale, and keep the project on track.  With a little practice and the right strategies, you can navigate difficult conversations to reach satisfactory outcomes. Developing an approach to such conversations is a key step towards project leadership and should be incorporated into your communication plan. In this article, I will outline some tips and ideas to help you prepare for and hold the conversation.   The need for difficult conversations Conflict drains employee resources and wastes time so it is important to know when and how to tackle the situation more directly. Such situations can include: Sudden declines in performance and productivity Inappropriate conduct toward team members or clients Personal problems Complaints from other team members against an individual Personality clashes.   Of course, the best way to address potential issues is to prevent conflict through regular communication and interaction with your team. Watch for warning signs such as lack of engagement in meetings, missed deadlines,…

A Practical Guide to Prioritizing Project Tasks

Ever feel like there just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done? In an increasingly connected and demanding business environment, we all feel this way from time to time. Conflicting priorities, unexpected issues, a constant stream of new requests, and a lack of vital resources often means we waste time on irrelevant or unimportant work instead of tackling high-value, meaningful tasks.  A global survey of 1,500 executives found that only 9% were satisfied with how they were spending their time. In addition, only 52% said that the way they spent their time largely matched their organizations’ strategic priorities. Thinking of time as an infinite resource that enables us to complete every task reduces individual, team, and organizational success. If everything is a priority, how do you achieve anything of importance or value? Developing a systematic approach to prioritizing work is your secret weapon in combating too many demands on your time. Read on to learn more about prioritization techniques to use for your own project work, planning team activities, and working with stakeholders. Prioritization 101 Prioritization refers to ‘doing first things first’ by evaluating a group of items and ranking them in their order of importance or urgency. In short,…

Tackling Scrum Agile for the First Time: A BrightWork Approach

If you know Scrum Agile, you may be thinking about introducing this methodology to your projects. To help you get started, I’ll share some experiences and tips following our application of the methodology in 2016. The Need for Change Our team is responsible for developing custom business solutions internally for BrightWork. We have delivered many successful projects over the years without the help of Scrum Agile, so let me start by saying only change your formula if you feel it is going to bring about a real positive change. Giving Scrum Agile a run made sense for us and we felt it was the right fit for some of our development programs. Only change your formula if you feel it is going to bring about a real positive change We wanted a change because we felt more traditional methods of project management were missing a certain versatility. We would begin with a requirement, kick off our development, and come back to the table some time later with a release candidate. We felt we were failing to get adequate feedback from the product owners along the journey but more significantly, the solution we were building never had a chance to adapt…

Millennials: The Heart of Collaborative Project Management

What is collaborative project management? Can you not just identify the need, and then do it? Do we even need project management? Let’s break it down. If you’re in an organization and you want to do something new, strategic, exciting, challenging, difficult – it’s a project. A project is an opportunity to transform. It’s a mechanism to bring you from a starting place to a new interesting place and it’s an action you take to realize your potential and meet your goals. Sounds exciting and invigorating, right? Especially this time of year as we are preparing for, if not already breaking into, a successful 2017. If you want to innovate, succeed and grow – you should explore collaborative project management! Project management is moving away from traditional managerial hierarchies and processes into a collaborative approach which emphasizes teamwork and cooperation. Why? Well, this is mainly due to the shift in personnel due to the growing numbers of millennials joining the workforce. People like myself who have graduated from college over the past 5 to 10+ years, who are looking to innovate, succeed, and grow. We want to make an impact, expect to work for a purpose, and we are willing and…

BrightWork Success – An Area of Expertise Just for You!

At BrightWork, our objective is to make it easy for you to manage projects successfully with SharePoint. This week we took the next step on that journey – BrightWork Success. BrightWork Success is an area of expertise designed specifically to help our customers accomplish more with BrightWork. With one login customers can now easily access an assortment of BrightWork and Collaborative Project Management training, resources, and support materials. If you are a customer, all you have to do to access this exclusive customer content is request access here. Our support team will be in touch once they can verify your customer status. If you are not a customer but want a sneak peek at the BrightWork Success content, simply visit here –  we’ve made some of the material open for you to enjoy too! BrightWork Success Membership includes access to: Help and FAQs An area created by our team so that our community can search for tips and knowledge about the BrightWork solution. Training Guides These training guides provide step-by-step instructions on how to use BrightWork to manage projects and portfolios on SharePoint 2013. Training Webinars These training webinars are 30 to 60 minute long videos that can help you learn how to…

5 Reasons Not to Use Excel for Project Management

Picture this. It’s Friday night. The office is empty. The only sound is frantic typing as you try to prepare a project status report for Monday’s meeting. You have to trawl through spreadsheets, spreadsheets, and more spreadsheets, cross-referencing data you can only hope is correct and up-to-date. The completed report is finally emailed to relevant stakeholders and team members. You can now leave for the weekend, knowing there will be confusion in the meeting as someone will make a change or update to their version of the report which no-one else can see. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry – you are not alone! Spreadsheets are the bane of many projects. Get started using SharePoint for project management for free today. No more spreadsheets and email!  It makes sense that many organizations turn to Excel for project management. It’s part of the Microsoft suite, making it familiar to end-users. Organizations often don’t want to invest in separate project management software, preferring to use readily available systems. In many cases, teams are forced to develop complex templates and workarounds in Excel and are reluctant to try a new method. Whilst Excel is a powerful tool, especially for data analysis, it’s just…

How to Reach Your Goals in 2017

“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” — Fitzhugh Dodson Goals, whether personal or professional, are powerful motivators and opportunities for change.  As we start a new year, it’s natural to reflect on the successes and failures of the past 12 months and to set goals for the coming year. A quick search in Google Trends reveals a predictable increase in searches for ‘setting goals’, ‘New Year’s resolutions’, ‘achieving goals’ and similar terms in the past seven days. New year, new you, right? Unfortunately whilst research from the University of Scranton shows that 57% of people set New Year’s resolutions, only 9% felt they were successful in achieving this goal. There are many reasons why we fail to achieve our goals; setting the wrong goal, trying to do too much too quickly, lack of a realistic plan or giving up at the first hurdle. As a project leader, you need to consider goals from two angles. Firstly, you should establish your own goals and define a plan to achieve these outcomes. This will ensure you remained focused on the road ahead and experience each day with intent. Secondly,…

5 Stages of a Project: Planning and Executing

I recently outlined the five phases of project management defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) with a particular focus on the first phase, Initiating. In this article, I will explore the next two phases of project management: Planning and Executing. Phase 2: Planning Using the project plan developed in Phase 1, work with your team and stakeholders to develop key documents required for project execution. Planning is vital to the overall health and success of your project so do invest time in this phase. Review and update the following plans: Costs: Estimate costs and create the project budget. Scope: Set the scope including tasks, costs, and outcomes. Duration: This should include ideal and likely timelines. It may be useful to start at the end goal and work backward to develop your timeline. Quality: Decide how deliverables will match the required criteria. Remember – quality is part of the triple constraints that impact on a project. Communication: Develop a detailed communication plan, outlining when and how key communications will occur. This should also include stakeholder engagement. Risk: Revisit the original risk assessment from Phase 1 and refine. Where needed, develop contingencies. Resources: Gather and allocate required resources. Metrics: Determine key reporting metrics and…

Situational Leadership: 3 Easy Ways to Adapt Your Approach

The journey to successful collaborative project leadership has so far included key leadership strategies for project managers and suggestions for positive team dynamics. Another important leadership technique is adapting to the current situation. There are several factors to help you understand the situation and decide what type of leadership is needed. Let’s look at four possible spectrums and three approaches to managing these situations. Four Situational Leadership Spectrums Capability Spectrum: Sometimes you will find the team members capable, competent, and able to do the job at hand. Other times, they are not capable or trained for the tasks ahead. Willingness Spectrum: There will be days when you will find team members energetic, enthusiastic and very willing. These are often followed by lazy, lethargic, and unproductive days. Time Pressure Spectrum: Project tasks are usually high priority or flexible. Environment Spectrum: Some projects live is a very stable and well-regulated environment whilst others occupy a manic, high growth, unstable environment, sometimes reaching crisis point.     Think of the spectrum as moving from positive behaviors on the right to negative behaviors on the left. Your goal is to move team members from the less desirable behaviors to positive outcomes, for example, training…

5 New Year’s Resolutions Project Managers Shouldn’t Make!

Another year, another fresh start and more projects to tackle. If you want to support your team and deliver better projects, here are five resolutions not to make and five that you should! 1. Micromanage the Team If you want to micromanage your team, prepare highly detailed plans, stand over every task, seek constant updates and refuse to delegate work. Your approach is simple: the project will be completed one way – your way! This strategy may sound tempting if you are a new project manager, are trying to manage multiple projects or have experienced failure in the past. Micromanagement often provides an illusion of control. However, the reality is reduced productivity, loss of trust, a team with little confidence, and burnout. Try this: Manage the team, not the tasks. Collaborate with your team by making sure everyone is clear on the goals of the project and their role in achieving these outcomes. Get to know your team so you can assign tasks according to their strengths and weaknesses. If needed, provide constructive feedback and additional mentorship. Trust your team to successfully complete the project.     2. Never Communicate Don’t waste time with meetings, sharing key project information or…

Boost Team Engagement in 3 Steps

I recently outlined 15 ways to cultivate your project leadership style. The next step in developing leadership is team management. The importance of leading and supporting your team becomess even clearer when we consider recent studies and surveys showing that large percentages of the workforce are not properly engaged with their company. If you are interested in these surveys, a good place to start your research is at www.gallup.com. This lack of employee engagement is a sad reality. I really believe that the vast majority of people would prefer to be fully engaged and enjoy work. We spend so much time at work – who wouldn’t want to be happier and more engaged at work? Here are three ways to engage and lead your project team.* 1. Decide on a Team Model The selected model should be consistent with collaborative project management. There are many options to consider depending on your organizational structure and the project. One approach is the formation of project teams within or between departments as needed. Each project has a designated leader. At some point, individuals will lead projects and serve as team members on other projects.   2. Build Team Dynamics – the 4 Cs…

Top Three: Our Most Popular Project Management Webinars of 2016

Every year I say it, “we’ve had the best year yet with webinars here at BrightWork”…and my tradition continues! A fabulous year of top-class content, presenters  and awesome attendees. We covered everything from making project management easy, project visibility and portfolio reporting to and using SharePoint to select and approve the right projects, to cultivating collaboration within distributed project teams…and much more! Prepare for project management success in 2017 and check out our recorded webinars below. Enjoy!   SharePoint + MS Project = The Perfect Combination for Project Collaboration Using SharePoint and Project together, make an invincible platform for collaborative project management! See how you can use SharePoint and Project together to: Start with managing a simple project schedule with tasks, issues and deliverables Evolve to manage a more complex work breakdown structure, with timelines and automated reports Manage across project and portfolios with metrics, dashboards and status reporting   3 Must-Have Skills of a Project Leader Many people believe that managing and leading projects is an innate skill. Not true!   Watch this recorded webinar to learn more about three essential skills that a project manager must have and practice: Time Management Energy Management Email Management Portfolio Management & Resource Tracking Using…

Happy Holidays From Our Family to Yours!

With the holiday season in full swing and as we prepare for the weekend festivities, we spent some time here at BrightWork reflecting upon and celebrating our many blessings and successes! We are grateful for you, our readers, for your constant support and attention. For our customers, who have given us their confidence and the opportunity to serve their needs over the past 21 years. And of course we celebrated together, as employees after another amazing year, laying the groundwork for a very positive start to 2017 – which we are looking forward to already! It has been an unforgettable year. We introduced a new release of BrightWork for SharePoint 2013 and 2016, launched our first book – The Collaborative Project Management Handbook, with proceeds going to Concern Worldwide and we even redesigned our website – with a surprise coming to it early next year. As we are closing the year, extreme excitement shines through us all – wait until you see what we have planned for 2017! From us all here at BrightWork, we wish you a happy holiday season accompanied with a healthy and happy new year!

15 Ways to Cultivate Your Project Leadership Style

If you are a new Project Manager, you really should think about leadership. It is very important to have a set of process steps to deliver successful project management. They will be your map for collaborative project management, without which you will get lost, your project may fail, and your project team will be disappointed in you. But even if you know how to navigate the project management terrain very well, you will need to do so with a leadership style that works for you and also works for collaborative project management. And if you are getting your stripes for the first time, this may be difficult for you. In this article, I will introduce 15 ideas to ways to cultivate your leadership style. In a follow-up article, I will outline elements relating to the team. Project Leadership Practices* Good leadership is a choice you make. Great leaders are not born thus. Great leaders make the necessary investments. Taking responsibility to lead yourself to a better place one day at a time will help you become a strong leader for others. Are you in that good place already or are you prepared to make the commitment to get there? If…

Best of 2016: Our Top 10 Blogs of the Year

After a year of fantastic content on the BrightWork blog, here are our top 10 most popular articles from 2016. The posts cover a range of project management and leadership topics such as communication, report writing, motivation, and SharePoint use.  We are looking forward to another great year of project management content in 2017. Thank you for reading!   How to Tackle Poor Project Communication Unsurprisingly our most popular article of the year! In this post, Grace addresses one of the most challenging issues for project teams: poor communication! The article offers practical approaches to dealing with this issue and enhancing team communication to a level of collaboration needed for project success.   7 Steps For Effective Report Writing Report writing. Another bane of the project manager’s existence! This post offers 7 simple steps to make your report writing more effective and stress-free. This is really an area many of us could improve on for 2017!   4 Quick Steps to set up SharePoint for Project Management In this post, Billy makes a great case for using SharePoint to support your project management practices. He offers us four simple steps to setting this up and even provides two fantastic SharePoint…

6 Reasons to Rethink Business Processes for Improved Projects [Guest Post]

During project planning, individual tasks can seem simple. However, as the project progresses, more tasks inevitably get added to the workload. Some of the tasks become more complex, making the entire process unwieldy and placing your project at risk. Taking some time to review and improve processes can really simplify the work needed to deliver a project. In some cases, it’s possible to automate some of the more rote tasks and use the structured workflow to keep things running smoothly. Business process re-engineering is a management strategy focused on analyzing and re-structuring workflows within an organization. Usually issues follow the introduction of a new product or service, new upper management, or new technology. When a pattern of inefficiency appears, project managers should promptly rethink how work is done in order to improve productivity and cut costs. Here are six areas to consider. Identify the Problem Identified issues could be due to some common causes: One department may use more than its share of resources. Busy schedules don’t allow time for process changes. Failure to recognize the extent or nature of problems. Inadequate employee training. Outdated or insufficient technology, tools, or infrastructure. Bureaucratic policies that create delays. Staff are not engaged or…

6 Easy Ways to Use OneNote for Project Management

I recently outlined some key features of Microsoft’s digital note-taking application, OneNote. I hope these tips boosted your productivity and made collaboration a little easier! If you are ready to explore the benefits of OneNote for project management  in more detail, read on. By the end of this article, you will know how to link OneNote and Outlook for improved task lists and email collaboration, and organize your notebooks effectively using lists and tags.   Link OneNote and Outlook   Tasks Outlook offers limited functionality when creating detailed tasks. By integrating OneNote with Outlook, you can organize tasks with links to relevant files, meeting notes and any additional resources needed to complete work efficiently. To get started, open Outlook, select ‘File’ and ‘Options’. Navigate to ‘Add-ins’ and select ‘COM Add-ins’ under Manage. Click ‘Go’.     Select ‘OneNote Notes about Outlook Items’ from the menu and finish by clicking ‘OK’. OneNote is now available within Outlook.     Before adding tasks to OneNote, consider how to organize and track tasks. It may be useful to set up a new notebook for all tasks or add a section within a project notebook to store related tasks. Creating tasks in OneNote using…

Dealing with Conflict in Project Teams

Conflict is an inevitable part of our personal and professional lives. Individual opinions, ideas, beliefs and personality clash for many, many reasons! Recent research shows that U.S. employees spend 2.1 hours per week involved with conflict, which amounts to approximately $359 billion in paid hours (based on an average hourly earnings of $17.95), or the equivalent of 385 million working days. In the same survey, 85% of respondents reported dealing with conflict on some level with a further 29% dealing with conflict almost constantly. These numbers are quite stark. According to the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), managing conflict is one of the biggest challenges a project manager faces. Ignoring conflict in project teams is not an option; it must be tackled head-on using the right processes and tools. What is Conflict? Conflict results from incompatible goals or competition for scarce resources. Conflict relates to differences in values, attitudes, needs, expectations, perceptions, communication styles and personalities. There are a few ways to think about different types of conflicts: Interpersonal conflict refers to a conflict between two individuals. This frequently results from differences in personality and opinion. Intragroup conflict is a type of conflict that happens among individuals within a team. Intergroup conflict…

Master Project Document Management in SharePoint

A smart project manager recognizes the importance of  having the right project documentation in place.  Unfortunately, the absence of a single document repository and templates combined with the ongoing demands of the project often means that project documentation remains a low priority. This can lead to miscommunication with stakeholders and the team, below-par work and delayed projects.   Types of Project Documentation Depending on the nature of your project and local guidance, there are many types of project documentation to consider. Below is a suggested list of essential documents that every project should have: Business case: This document is part of the Initiation Phase and marks the start of the project. Project charter: The project charter is the most important document for any project manager. The document is the source of formal approval for the project and supports your authority as project manager. Simply put, the project cannot exist without it! Project management plan: The plan is often a collection of documents such as the scope baseline, Work Breakdown Structure, Schedule, Stakeholder Engagement Strategy and Communications Plan. Risk Register: The document should include details of the risk and task owners. Reports: A collection of documents that track project progress and…

5 Skills Recruiters are Secretly Looking for in a Project Manager [Guest Post]

Enterprises and organizations are now slowly realizing the critical role of project managers. The popularity and demand for the job have made it a sought-after career. Because of this, recruiters have set a higher standard when hiring aspiring project managers. The list of requirements and experiences needed to land a job as a project manager can seem daunting. It is no longer sufficient to just have the right credentials, a stellar recommendation, and background; you also have to stand out amongst all the other applicants. If you want to be a project manager, here are 5 skills recruiters are secretly looking for in their next PM: Listening Skills A lot of applicants boast about excellent communication skills. But, great project managers know they do not just talk, they also listen. Since project managers lead a team into completing a project, listening sets apart the great project managers from the good ones. They encourage everyone in the team to discuss and share their ideas to build a collaborative relationship.   Ability to handle criticism No one is perfect. Even great project managers make mistakes sometimes. To succeed in the field, you should be able to treat criticism as a learning opportunity.…

Managing Distributed Project Teams [Infographic]

The once common practice of teams working together in one location has been radically disrupted in recent years. Online collaboration tools, the desire for speed and agility, and the difficulties many companies face when recruiting top talent have contributed to growing numbers of distributed workers and teams. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that around 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) work from home at least half the time. This means that many project managers now oversee distributed teams. Working remotely makes sense for employer and employee alike. Employers can cast a wider net when recruiting; reduce overheads such as property rental; decrease absenteeism, and take advantage of time zones to meet production requirements. Remote employees also report high levels of satisfaction, increased productivity, self-sufficiency, and a better work-life balance. In fact, a poll of 1,500 technology professionals revealed that 37% would take a pay cut of 10% if they could work from home. However, distributed teams face several obstacles, including lack of cohesion; limited knowledge sharing; difficulty tracking completed work; time-zones; engagement and motivation, and cultural and language barriers. Lack of personal contact also makes it difficult to build trust, which in turn, can hamper communication and collaboration. Here are a…

8 Practical Ideas to Overcome Procrastination

Recently, we featured tips for motivating your team and developing a healthier attitude to achieve personal and professional goals. A recurring theme within these posts was the importance of just getting started, something we all struggle with from time to time. We are all procrastinators! Procrastination means putting off a task for a short or extended period of time, often in favor of doing something more enjoyable. A simple example is spending time online watching funny videos instead of starting a new project report.  An inevitable occurrence in any project, procrastination can lead to delayed tasks, low team morale, constant changes to project deadlines, poor quality deliverables and so on. As a project manager, you may assume that procrastination is easily overcome with a well-defined schedule, regular meetings and the odd pep talk to boost morale. If only! Procrastination is often driven by emotional factors, such as a fear of failure, and can have multiple, negative consequences for individual team members. If you want to get the best from your team, you need to develop effective strategies for dealing with procrastination. In this article, I will explore some of the reasons behind procrastination and outline anti-procrastination strategies for both project managers…

5 Project Leadership Lessons from the NFL

In the sporting world, it is often said you’re ‘only as good as your last game’, meaning you are defined by your results. No one remembers any of the inch perfect passes Russell Wilson threw in Super bowl 49; they remember the interception he threw on the goal line that cost his team the championship. ‘Worst play call in Super bowl history’ is the phrase that was doing the rounds that following Monday. ‘What were Pete Carroll and his staff thinking, passing instead of running?’ One decision in the heat of battle, and it cost them everything. An entire seasons work, undone. So what can a project manager learn from this? Are you only as good as your last project? The hard truth is that no one will care about your project, they’ll care about the result. This is one of the many lessons that project managers can take from sports. Read on for 5 project leadership lessons from the NFL. 1. How to Define Success “In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are”. – Arnold H. Glasow. Many projects fail as they are rudderless. Setting objectives, tracking responsibility, measuring success, –…

This Thanksgiving, We’re Thankful for our Customers!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year. It is one of those periods when we can take the time to reflect and think about the things in our lives that we are truly grateful for. A time to express this appreciation in a wholesome way and to be happy. At BrightWork, we’re especially thankful for all our families, friends, co-workers, customers, and community members like you! We wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings and hope you enjoy this great holiday season. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy. Here is a selection of some of the customers we are grateful to know and work with. If the turkey is taking too long in the oven or the football doesn’t quite keep your attention then take some time to read and watch their stories as well as many others. AmSurg standardizes project management processes with SharePoint templates. APi Group IT Uses BrightWork to Implement Software Across 50+ Subsidiary Companies. Ascend Performance Materials Increases Work Visibility by 40% using BrightWork. Camden National Bank Eliminates More Than 60% of Extra Project Documentation – With…

Track and Re-Plan Your Project with SharePoint [SlideShare]

Projects rarely go according to plan! Unexpected risks, delays, lack of stakeholder engagement, poor team collaboration: the obstacles to successful project management are numerous! It is critically important to periodically track your project and re-plan as needed. This will help to keep the project on track and let your team know of any new tasks or deadline. There are three key steps to consider: Assess the current status of the project:  Use scorecards, metrics tiles and dashboards on the individual project level to review project health, overdue tasks, issues, and other relevant data. Manage exceptions and risks: Explore and manage issues, risks and exceptions with configurable reports. Re-plan the project: This includes re-assigning tasks and resources, and communicating these updates to your team.   Our recent webinar, 3 Steps to Track and Re-Plan Your Project with SharePoint, demonstrated how to use SharePoint to track and re-plan efficiently. Check out the webinar slide deck below  or access the full webinar here.     These additional resources provide more tips to track and re-plan your project: Get a Fast Start to Your Project – Track the Essentials Portfolio Management & Resource Tracking Using SharePoint [Webinar] How to Track Resources in SharePoint with BrightWork…

4 Quick Steps To Set Up SharePoint For Project Management

If you are not using SharePoint for project management today… you should be! SharePoint is a feature-rich platform for team collaboration. With a few simple configurations, it can mimic the structure required to manage projects of all sizes and type. It’s not very difficult, you just have to know what to do! FREE DOWNLOAD: TWO TEMPLATES FOR LITE AND STRUCTURED PROJECT MANAGEMENT ON SHAREPOINT Here are 4 things you can do to set up your SharePoint site to manage a project. 1. Use the Quick Launch to manage the project management process In SharePoint you can create team sites, which are essentially web pages for teams to connect and collaborate on work or a project.  With some edits to the Quick Launch, you can map your SharePoint site to manage the project management processes (with as much or as little process as you want). You can add different lists and apps to manage all aspects of your project, including: project issues, risks, tasks, goals, change requests, and project status reports. In the screenshot below, you see how the Quick Launch can map to various project phases. On the left you see a “lite” amount of project management broken down into:…

New BrightWork Resource: Effective Project Meetings 101 Ebook

Poor meetings are detrimental to project harmony and project success. The consequences of inefficient meetings include poor decisions, delays in completing key tasks and a demotivated team. We have all experienced the frustration of a badly run meeting that was draining and a complete waste of time! Sometimes, it is very tempting to eliminate project meetings in favor of email, IM and other online collaboration tools. However, meetings are a critical tool to project success. Effective meetings are essential to collaborative project management. A good meeting should energize the team, making them feel connected, involved and informed. Effective meetings are essential to making informed decisions, which in turn, keeps your project on track. It is not at all hard to run effective meetings, but you must be intentional to do so. Download our new ebook and access: 10 Habits for Effective Project Meetings 3 Sample Agendas for Project Sponsor, Team and Brainstorm meetings.       Click here to download your free ebook.

9 Strategies for a Healthier Attitude

I previously introduced the importance of having a healthy, positive attitude in both personal and professional matters. The next logical question becomes – how do you sharpen and nurture your attitude? Here are nine strategies to consider.     Find Your Motivation It is typically hard to make a change of any significance without some motivation. The bigger the change desired, the larger the motivation required. Can you think of any reasons that you wish to change your attitude? Find your motivation. Ask yourself, “what is my why?” Do you want to be happier? Perhaps you wish to be healthier? Or you would like to be more helpful to others (e.g. family, friends, work colleagues, etc.)? Might it be that you believe that you are not yet reaching your full potential? As you remember these answers, keep asking yourself ‘why’ until you get to the root reason, the real why. What is it that you really want and why is this? A true motivation will help trigger an attitude change. This motivation can be the foundation from which you start to sharpen your attitude.   Have a Life Purpose If you dig deep enough and search long enough you might…

5 Phases of a Project: Initiating

In a recent article, I introduced five popular project methodologies: PRINCE2, Critical Path Management, Waterfall, Agile and Scrum. The purpose of selecting a methodology is to provide a roadmap to project success. As well as being familiar with different project methodologies and their application, project managers should also understand the five phases of project management defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK): Initiating, Planning, Executing,Monitoring/Controlling and Closing. In this article, I will outline the five phases before exploring the Initiating Phase. This article is the first in a series which delves into each phase in more detail.   5 Phases of Project Management   Initiating: A new project is broadly defined and submitted for formal approval. This phase often begins with a business case, which outlines the objectives, purpose and deliverables of the proposed project. Stakeholders are identified and preliminary requirements are documented. Key outputs include the project charter which assists with Planning. Any feasibility testing should also take place during this phase. Planning: A comprehensive project plan is developed which outlines the budget, scope, duration, deliverables and quality, communications, metrics, risks and resources. Executing: The project is now ready to launch!…

Sharpen Your Attitude to Life

On your project and in life, you have the cards you have for now. Maybe you dealt the cards to yourself or maybe someone else dealt them. What matters now is how you deal with the hand of cards you have. In this regard, your attitude really matters. On a project, as in life, we do not know for sure what is coming next. It is best if we ourselves and the people around us have a healthy attitude so we are able to deal with and navigate the natural ups and downs. If you wish to be a leader on a collaborative project – whether you are the project manager or not – it is important to exhibit a healthy attitude. A healthy attitude is not something that we easily attain. For most of us mere mortals, attitude is something we have to grow and sharpen from time to time, but this is very doable. Read on to learn more about the role of biology in attitudes and for some practical strategies to develop a positive, healthy attitude to life.   Take Your Own Drugs Recent scientific studies have advanced our understanding of the physiology of the brain and…

6 Ways to Improve Team Motivation

A project manager wears many hats: planner, negotiator, resource manager, delegator and accountant to name but a few. Project managers also need to tap into psychological theories and skills to understand and motivate their teams. Motivating your project team is not as simple as holding a meeting, setting tasks and hoping that everyone enthusiastically tackles the work. Understanding what motivation actually is and why it matters means that project managers must get to grips with managing people, not just processes.  Motivating project teams leads to increased collaboration, innovation and productivity, all of which allow the team grow and succeed together.   What is Motivation? I am sure you will agree with the idea that motivation is somewhat elusive! We all have those super-productive days when anything seems possible and days that feel like we are running through extremely sticky mud. Motivation is described as the ‘process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors’. Motivation causes us to act; it is the ‘why’ of behavior. We can only gauge someone’s level of motivation by what they do, for example, completing tasks on time or helping out a colleague suggests that a team member is motivated to complete the project. As motivation…

Choosing a Project Management Methodology

A project is about change and transformation. A temporary endeavor, a project often utilizes an established methodology to achieve certain goals for internal or external customers. A methodology is like a roadmap or a set of blueprints for your project, providing teams with a set of instructions and processes to deliver successful projects.  Choosing the methodology before starting the project will save time and resources as teams can get to work quickly rather than spending time figuring out how to execute tasks. There are many different types of project methodologies which have evolved to meet the needs of various industries and organizations. In this article, I will briefly outline five popular approaches – PRINCE2, Critical Path Management, Waterfall, Agile and Scrum – before concluding with some tips to determine which methodology to use.   Project Management Methodologies PRINCE2 PRINCE2 (an acronym for PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a process-driven approach with a focus on business justification and a defined organization structure for teams. Developed in 1989 and used extensively by the UK government, PRINCE2 breaks a project into stages and treats each stage as its own entity. The methodology consists of 7 Principles, 7 Themes and 7 Processes to ensure that projects are…

5 Ways to Optimize Project and Portfolio Management

Implementing successful project and portfolio management (PPM) is highly beneficial for organizations. By taking a high-level view of current and requested projects, PPM focuses on executing the right projects to fulfill strategic and commercial goals. PPM also improves resource management, forecasting and reporting whilst ensuring that more projects are delivered on time and within budget. Getting PPM in place is complex and challenging. Prioritizing project requests; tracking multiple projects; balancing large and small projects, and resource management are just some of the obstacles associated with PPM. However, research conducted by PM Solutions reveals the business value of PPM. 26% of surveyed organizations recorded a 25% or greater ROI from implementing PPM processes. Overall,  the survey indicates that more organizations are introducing PPM to improve business outcomes and customer satisfaction. Here are 5 articles and resources to help optimize project and portfolio management in your organization. In his One Page Plan for Successful Portfolio Management, PMO expert Ken Martin explains the benefits of PPM, the implications of not using PPM and key actions needed to establish a Portfolio Management Office. The video blog, Project Management Tip: Manage Your Portfolio, identifies seven ways to start managing and controlling your portfolio – in under 90 secs!…

Making Project Management Easy with SharePoint and BrightWork [SlideShare]

SharePoint is a great tool for team collaboration. Native SharePoint platform capabilities such as shared sites, document management, co-authoring, version control, discussions give you the tools necessary to collaboratively manage a project. SharePoint can also be extended with project management templates, portfolio dashboards and smart project management capabilities to create a powerful project and portfolio management solution. Watch the recorded webinar: “Making Project Management Easy with SharePoint and BrightWork” Now! Tools like BrightWork will help you deploy additional project and portfolio management capabilities to create a complete collaborative project management tool right in SharePoint. Check out the SlideShare below our recent webinar to find out how BrightWork will make project and portfolio management easier for you. You’ll see how BrightWork will help you to: Manage projects with best-practice project management templates Control portfolios and track the health of all projects across the organization Bring all project information together in one collaborative environment Easily capture, reuse and deploy new processes.   Watch webinar now!

How to Tackle Poor Project Communication

Every day, we communicate in person, on the phone, by email, text or online. The human brain actually evolved to favor our social nature, meaning that we are hard-wired to communicate with others. Despite our natural predisposition to social interaction, many people are poor communicators. The professional consequences of ineffectual communication are manifold: conflict with colleagues; missed business opportunities; stalled career development; stress; low morale and so on. Poor communication is particularly damaging in the context of project management. Research conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) found that ineffective communication was the main contributor to project failure one-third of the time, and had a negative impact on project success more than half the time. More worrying is the finding that 56% of budgets allocated to projects are at risk due to poor communication. Communication can make or break your project. Understanding the roots of poor communication and the impact of this risk is critical to developing a communication plan that works. Reasons for Poor Communication We take it for granted: Communication often fails because we take it for granted. Project managers assume that communication takes place as project teams attend in-person and virtual meetings, use emails and IM, update…

The Role of Integrative Thinking in Project Management

Effective decision making is critical to successful project management. There are several ways to make that all-important decision including our five-step process; understanding and managing your personality; data visualization techniques, and conducting a SWOT analysis. In this article, I am going to introduce another decision making process for complex situations: “integrative thinking”, the ability to create a new solution from two opposing choices or solutions. Integrative thinking was developed by Roger Martin following extensive research into how successful business leaders actually think. Often, when confronted with a problem, we reduce our options to a choice between Option A or Option B. We crave simplicity! This process forces us to forgo the benefits and possibilities of the rejected route. By contrast, integrative thinkers create a third, superior option by combining elements of the two choices. They embrace complexity and tension. The business model pursued by software provider, Red Hat, exemplifies integrative thinking. Confronted with the option of pursuing either the traditional proprietary software model or the “free” software model, co-founder Bob Young decided to give away Red Hat as a free download to establish the company as the only scale Linux provider. He created a new, corporate market for the product…

OneNote 101: Getting Started with the Basics

Call me a little old-fashioned but I love taking notes with a pen and paper. I can jot down an idea or plan a meeting agenda using a physical notebook far quicker than opening and saving a Word document. There is something comforting in the act of writing, a sense of permanency in recording your ideas. I have several notebooks and many illegible post-it notes on my desk as a result! My attachment to writing notes made me a little skeptical of Microsoft’s OneNote when I first started using the application a few months ago. However, I am becoming a convert – even more so after researching this article. I am going to share a few ideas and tips to help you leverage OneNote to track ideas and work collaboratively.   What is OneNote? OneNote is a digital note taking application  and productivity tool. Use the app to take notes, record audio, capture screenshots, and so on. Notebooks may be shared with others (even if they do not use OneNote), which makes collaborative project management easier.  The app is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Chrome, and Android. Integrating with the rest of Office, OneNote automatically saves and synchronizes your notes.…

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Effective Project Management

To be an effective leader, you need to first know yourself and be self-aware. Applying models such as the Enneagram to leadership can radically improve management, collaboration and communication, the tools for successful project management. I am going to introduce a second popular personality model, The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI), to inform your exploration of personality types. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) The MBTI was developed by mother and daughter, Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers, in the 1940s and 50s, extending Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type from the 1920s. Jung gave us Extrovert or Introvert, Sensing or iNtuition and Thinking or Feeling. The MBTI extends Jung’s work by helping us to see patterns in how we prefer to use our perception and judgement. Perception is how we come to knowledge, whereas judgement is how we come to conclusions. Since we all differ in how we perceive and judge, we differ in how we relate to the world around us. The MBTI mirror or instrument views personality through four lenses as follows: Extrovert or Introvert – Do you relate more to the external or internal world? Sensing or iNtuition – How do you prefer to take in or perceive information? Thinking…

Microsoft’s One More Thing: Surface Studio

All the leading tech companies like to do big reveal days once or twice a year, and recently it was Microsoft’s turn. They announced a bunch of stuff, and one post would definitely not do it all justice, so today I am just going to focus on the Surface Studio and the Surface Dial. It’s not for nothing that the phrase ‘one more thing’ has become associated with the late great Steve Jobs, who used it to launch some of best tech products of the last 20 years (it also launched a fair amount of rubbish as well). For many years, the cool stuff Apple launched made Microsoft look every inch the boring beige-box tech company that gave us Clippy, Steve Ballmer shouting, and such exciting innovations as the ribbon in Microsoft Office (a great innovation, but did it ever make you happy?). Well Surface Studio sure changes all that. Surface Cool Recent years have seen Microsoft turn the boring label around, most especially with the Surface family of innovative devices, originally launched back in 2012 alongside Windows 8 (while it was still under shouty Steve!).  The Surface two-in-one concept was invention of a new class of device; sure, we’d seen tablets before,…

5 Key Success Factors for BrightWork Deployments

BrightWork has been deployed to thousands of customers over the past twenty years. Having spent some time reviewing customer success, I have identified five key success factors behind these deployments as follows:   Clear understanding of the organization’s project and portfolio management requirements Use an Agile Iterative Deployment Plan that ensures all requirements are accomplished Design and adjust the site templates for ease of use Get management support for the process and BrightWork Have regular solutions reviews to assess the tool’s effectiveness and alignment to process priorities.   Let’s take a closer look at these key factors. 1. Clear understanding of the organization’s project and portfolio management requirements First, any project and portfolio management tool is only as good as the process it serves. It is important that everyone involved in project management has a clear understanding of the requirements the organization will follow. Know how much of the process is being used today and, more importantly, how the organization wants to evolve and mature in their use of project management in the future. Prioritize the important capabilities that will meet these requirements. Make sure everyone agrees this is the path the group wants to go on now and in the future. 2.…

Improve Project Visibility and Portfolio Reporting in SharePoint [Video]

Lack of project visibility is a common complaint across many project teams. Poor project visibility means that team members do not know what their tasks are, making impossible for project managers to track and report on the project status to stakeholders. Reports, dashboards and real-time data allow project managers and stakeholders to have an all-important overview of current projects within an organization. Our recent webinar, Project Visibility and Portfolio Reporting in SharePoint, examined three key ways to improve project visibility: Data roll-up from project offices for immediate visibility across all projects Use of real-time dashboards and metrics to track project progress, health and risks Project reporting for teams and stakeholders with the ‘My Work Report’ and automated emails.   Watch highlights from the webinar below or check out the full webinar here.   Using the right project management tools can increase project visibility, boost the quality of completed work and increase the number of active projects. BrightWork provides a range of powerful reporting templates, including configurable dashboards that enable project managers to keep projects on track and gives senior executives the visibility and control they need to deliver project success across the organization. Find more details of the templates in…