Lessons in Leadership: John Wooden

Sport is a great place to turn when looking for examples of great leadership. You think of the legendary coaches who led their teams to tremendous success. To me, one person who stands out as a great source of inspiration and an example of a great leader, is the late John Wooden, former UCLA Men’s Head Basketball Coach. John Wooden is widely considered to be one of the greatest coaches of all time, in any sport. He was the Head Basketball Coach at the University of California at Los Angeles from 1948 – 1975. Towards the end of his tenure as a head basketball coach, he won ten national championships in the space of twelve years. His achievements on the court and building UCLA into a dominant program was an amazing feat in and of itself. But there was more to his leadership than just the trophies. There is a chapter in our Collaborative Project Management Handbook that starts with the following quote: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams, Sixth President of the United States* Wooden captured that essence in his approach. One of the…

Do You Know How to Build a Stellar Project Team?

Successful project management relies on great teams to get the work done on time and as agreed. Unfortunately, with so much emphasis on planning, processes, and tools, it’s easy to overlook the people side of project management. Given the temporary nature of projects and a fast-paced business environment, project managers need the team to gel from Day 1 and work together in a collaborative and productive manner. This is rarely the case. Based on research by Dr. Bruce Tuckman, we know teams tend to journey through five stages of development before they can really perform. As the project manager, you need to understand these stages so you can guide and support your team as needed, regardless of project duration. Read on to learn more about team formation and best practices to help you build a stellar team.   What Defines a High-Performance Project Team? Before reviewing Tuckman’s work, let’s look some qualities of a high-performance team. Goal-orientated: High-performance project teams share a common goal. Each team member is clear on the goal, required tasks, and activities, and individual responsibilities to achieve the desired outcome. Success or failure is a team effort. Innovative: High-performance teams are often more proactive, creative, and, engaged.…

Get a Fast Start to Your Project – Track the Essentials

In this blog post, I will explore how you can track projects before you start fully managing them! And this ironically will help you manage them! “The secret of getting ahead is getting started” ~ Mark Twain Why Only Project Tracking? Why would we resort to, or maybe start with, merely tracking projects as distinct from fully managing projects? Well, there are at least two reasons: The project might be quite small or perhaps it’s a project that you find very easy to deliver as you have done it many times before. In these scenarios, it doesn’t make sense to deploy a very large amount of project management. You and the team may not be ready to deploy a large amount of project management. This can be the case even when the project deserves and needs lots of project management. Could be a lack of experience, a lack of time, a lack of budget, but in any event the team is just not ready for large amounts of project management.   In both of these cases, it seems wise to start with project tracking and do that well. A Project Management Spectrum Here is a very simple project management spectrum. In…

The Complete Guide to Project Management Education and Becoming a Certified PMP

The undisputed number 1 project management certification is the PMP from the Project Management Institute. Becoming a Project Management Professional is the most well-respected form of education within the discipline and with that, it is quite a demanding certification to earn. The PMP exam will be changing in Q1 of 2018. So now is the perfect time to get ahead of the change and become PMP certified! This article will give a brief overview of the certification and touch on the other options before going on to break down the PMP certification and provide resources to help you acquire it. To begin with, you may have heard the term PDU bandied about in the world of PM and you may have asked the question: What is a PDU in Project Management? A PDU stands for a Professional Development Unit; a way to measure ongoing professional development. Once you’ve earned your Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification, you’ll need to fulfill your PMP PDU requirements to maintain your credential. As a Project Management Institute (PMI®) credential holder, you’ve proven that you have acquired the knowledge and experience necessary to meet certain eligibility requirements. In addition, your PMP certification shows your dedication to your profession,…

A Quick Guide to Project Teams: Types and Benefits

For many, myself included, being part of a team and all that comes with it – collaboration, problem-solving, healthy conflict, help, learning, fun – influences how happy we are at work. As noted in Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook and other studies, modern work is increasingly more team-based with up to 75% of an employee’s spent communicating with colleagues. Successful organizations invest in teams, putting the optimal mix of people together in the right environment and creating support structures to help them excel. In this article, I’m going to explore different types of teams, and the advantages and disadvantages of teamwork. In a follow-up article, I’ll take a look at the qualities and habits of effective teams.   What is a Team? A team is defined as ‘any group of people organized to work together interdependently and cooperatively to accomplish a purpose or a goal’. Shared responsibility for a common goal defines successful teams. Teams create a framework to help individuals easily work together, improving decision-making, problem-solving, and organizational agility. Generally, teams of five to seven people perform well; bigger teams should be divided into smaller sub-teams.   6 Benefits of Teamwork     The first principal of our three-step…

Reporting on a Hierarchy of Sites and Projects in SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint is the perfect solution for collaborative project management. Native SharePoint sites can be configured to provide a centralized workspace to manage a project. All team members need is access to a web browser to be connected to their work and to their peers in SharePoint. No more worrying about what’s on the project plan or who has the latest versions of a document… it is all housed in one central project site! BrightWork even has two Free SharePoint Project Management Templates to get you started (so you have no excuse!) Manage Many Individual Projects in SharePoint Here you see an example of a SharePoint project management site in BrightWork, tracking information about an individual project: This one happens to use a loosely structured approach. You can have as many project sites like this as you have projects, with varying amounts of project management rigor. Limitations of SharePoint for Project Management There are, however, limitations to out-of-the-box SharePoint. One of those boundaries is that native SharePoint does not allow for reporting across multiple project sites. You could have ten, twenty, one hundred or even a thousand individual project sites on the go, but reporting across them at the Project…

3 Ways to Handle Complex Projects [Guest Post]

In every team or office work, a complex project is almost always part of the daily routine – especially in marketing, architectural, construction, design and IT firms. One aspect of a complex project is the number of people involved in it. Sometimes, it is hard to even identify who’s who when it comes to the assignment of specific tasks – adding more complications to the project as it already is. Difficult projects are preferred by many employees because they are inherently challenging and very fulfilling once it gets done. The project also enriches their work experience, skills, and even improves collaboration and relationship with their co-workers. Companies also benefit from complex projects. Once such a project is successfully completed, the credit goes to the company’s name – and this can help build up their authority and credibility within the industry. Before such projects can be successfully delivered, project managers should know how to oversee them correctly. Of course, the most important aspect is to come up with a quality output to impress their client/market within agreed deadlines. So how can this be handled? There are three possible ways to do that. 1. Divide the tasks to identify which are easy…

6 Things Project Managers need to do to Earn a Promotion

When endeavoring to advance your career, there is more to earning a promotion than merely excelling in your project management role. This article explores some the most significant factors in demonstrating your value and getting that position that you deserve. According to “The Five Patterns of Extraordinary Careers,” by James M. Citrin and Richard A. Smith, successful individuals regularly use two promotion strategies. First, they seek potential based promotions where a senior leader decides to place a bet on the person’s potential (most common at earlier career stages). Second, they seek to leverage proven experience and major accomplishments and make the case that they can achieve similar results again. It is important to recognize the uncertainty involved with both options for the professional and the employer. Let’s explore how to set yourself up for promotion. 1. Deliver a major accomplishment In the project world, there is a distinction between “run the company” projects and “transform the company” projects. If you are seeking a promotion, projects that make a major impact are the best area to focus on. Citrin and Smith share the example of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) taking a company public as an example. A successful IPO is…

How to Use Project Portfolio Metrics to Deliver Business Value

In an increasingly competitive business environment, more organizations are turning to project portfolio management (PPM) to meet strategic goals and objectives. Providing organizations with a system to implement the right projects at the right time, effective PPM improves decision-making, optimizes resource management, and delivers better business value. Maintaining a healthy portfolio requires organizations to align the portfolio with strategy and to select suitable metrics to track progress. It’s also important to periodically review the overall status of the portfolio against agreed goals and external business factors to identify any changes. Let’s take a look at each of these components.   Project Portfolio Management and Business Strategy As defined by Porter, strategy is “a process of analysis which is designed to achieve the competitive advantage of an organization over another in the long term”. Strategy should reflect the organization’s purpose, informing company structure and ways of working.  Porter identified three types of strategy – cost, leadership, or differentiation – and recommended organizations pursue one strategy type to achieve optimal results. Realizing a strategy depends on comprehensive implementation plans, which reflect internal capabilities and resources, and external opportunities and threats.  Projects are increasingly core to the delivery of agreed strategy, but can…

A Brief Introduction to Project Portfolio Governance

Trying to run successful project management in an organization without knowing what projects are underway, what projects are planned, and who is doing which work is like flying blind.  Inevitably, some projects are doomed from the start. An article in CIO Magazine shared two anecdotes (and I’m sure you can tell me more just like them!): A director of information services in one organization estimated that his department had 20 projects in flight. Turns out, they had 60! In another organization, three project managers arrived at a planning meeting with project plans that all required 100 percent of available resources.   Situations like this are quite common in project management, making strong project portfolio governance essential.  The rest of this blog will explore the importance of project portfolio governance in an organization, including a few ways a tool like BrightWork can help! What is Project Portfolio Governance? The Association for Project Management defines project portfolio governance as: “the selection, prioritization, and control of an organization’s projects and programmes in line with its strategic objectives and capacity to deliver. The goal is to balance change initiatives and business-as-usual while optimizing return on investment.” Just because someone has an idea for a…

Is Resilience the Secret to Being Happy at Work?

In the second season of Billions, psychiatrist and performance coach, Dr. Wendy Rhodes is asked to assess a candidate for a private manned mission to Mars. Seemingly impeccable on paper, Dr. Rhodes rejects the candidate as she has carefully avoided adversity throughout her life and thus lacks the resilience to deal with the unknown. At Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, students can enroll in a new initiative, Failing Well, which aims to cultivate resilience among students by celebrating failure. Sheryl Sandberg’s recent bestseller, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, documents her own journey to resilience following the death of her husband, drawing upon extensive research and individual stories about this quality. These three diverse examples are just a nod to the current emphasis on resilience. So, what exactly is resilience and how do you cultivate this quality? What is Resilience?     Resilience is defined as ‘’the psychological capacity to adapt to stressful circumstances and to bounce back from adverse events’’. Resilient individuals demonstrate the ability to recover and learn from challenging situations and changing circumstances. Resilience is associated with optimism, managing strong emotions, responding to opportunities, and forward thinking. Learning is crucial to resilience. We all experience some…

Project Reports – Know Your Audience!

Having accurate and up-to-date project reports is critical to project success.  But when it comes to creating just the right set of project reporting dashboards, it’s important to know your audience. Everyone involved on a project will need to see a slightly different set of information depending on their specific roles and responsibilities on the project.  For example, team members should be able to easily find their open tasks on a particular project, while senior executives are more likely interested in the high-level status of many projects. The key is to enable every person involved in the project to do their job more efficiently by getting rid of the clutter and providing them with the right project reports, with relevant data, at the right time. For the rest of this blog, I will look at three main roles of a project team and an overview of the key project reports they each audience is likely looking for. Project Reports for Senior Executives One common challenge for senior executives is that they have to go through multiple channels to get status updates regarding all the projects in the organization. The information they receive is often of varying quality and timeliness. Occasionally, by…

Using SharePoint for Project Issue Management

A former project manager colleague of mine once quipped “Project Management…what’s that? My job is Issue Management!” The other project managers and I all had an uncomfortable chuckle and nodded in agreement because it certainly did feel that way at times. Seems not a week went by that we weren’t trying to put out some project fire (aka “issue”) that flared up. Although we can’t entirely stop issues from coming our way, we can indeed make them more manageable and visible by introducing SharePoint into the mix. Gathering Project Issue Data Before we begin clicking away in SharePoint, let’s come up with some requirements. What kind of metadata about the issue should we capture via columns in our SharePoint list? Here are some starter ideas: Title of the issue Person who identified the issue (SharePoint person lookup type column) Person assigned to resolve the issue (SharePoint person lookup column) Priority – suggested choices to allow for sorting later on: (1) High, (2) Normal, (3) Low Issue status (choice type column) Type of issue (choice type column) Full description Resolution due date Status comments.   Tracking Project Issues in SharePoint Using the above data, you can now add an Issue Tracking list…

9 Steps for Implementing Successful Project Portfolio Management

When implemented correctly, project portfolio management (PPM) transforms organizational approaches to project management and business growth.  PPM ensures organizations execute the right projects at the right time in a consistent way to deliver maximum business value. Like any major change within an organization, introducing PPM practices and processes requires a roadmap to success. Read on for a 9-step PPM implementation plan.   “Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment”. —Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, Built to Last Step 1: Set the Strategy Aligning projects to business strategy is core to project portfolio management so it makes sense to start with a clear understanding of that strategy. What does your business want to achieve and when? What solutions or internal transformations are needed to reach these goals? Speak with senior stakeholders and executives about their definition of value and expectations from current projects. Understanding this big picture will help you win executive support for PPM in Step 2 and develop a ranking system for projects in Step 4.   Step 2: Win Executive Support Introducing PPM requires a shift in mindset and processes that some individuals will resist. To reduce this friction, you need to identify key stakeholders…

3 Project Reporting Scenarios Your Senior Executives Will Love

One of the most common challenges faced by senior executives is a lack of visibility into ongoing and proposed projects. When this happens, projects are in trouble beyond rescue before anyone notices, approved projects may not be aligned with the strategic objectives, and good resources can be way under-or way over-allocated. It doesn’t have to be that way! Here are three project reporting scenarios (in SharePoint!) that will give your senior executives the necessary visibility they need into project statuses, resources, and the project pipeline in order to be able to make decisions and provide guidance to keep projects on track. Scenario #1: Project request management for selecting the right projects The idea of managing project requests seems like it should be simple.  Is the project going to provide value? Yes? Approved! But, it’s not that easy. In many organizations, the process for deciding which projects get approved or dropped is informal and inconsistent.  Just because someone has an idea for a project does not mean it is the right project for your organization! Having the ability to capture and log project requests is the critical first step.  How can you rank and prioritize new projects if you don’t even know what they…

Using Project Metrics for Successful Project Management

Easy access to accurate data is key to project performance, helping to improve visibility, collaboration, and decision-making. Project metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) are particularly useful because they provide an objective measure of project health and allow project managers to make important decisions about a project. What Is A Project Metric? A metric is simply a measurement of something.  When managing a project you can choose to use project metrics or not. An example of a project metric could be: the estimated cost of the project, the number of issues that are late, the duration of a project.   You then track how the project is performing relative to that measure over time, and therefore you have a metric. Using Metrics for Better Project Reporting Project metrics are a very efficient way to assess the health of a project because they tell the project manager how the project is doing relative to the key performance indicators that have been selected.  This makes it very easy to identify the areas of a project that require attention. So let’s think about the simple cycle here and why project metrics are incredibly useful if implemented and reported the right way. Project team members execute their work and…

Why do You Need to Worry About Imposter Syndrome?

The exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me feel very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler – Albert Einstein. At some point in your career, you’ve probably felt like you didn’t belong. Like you had ‘swindled’ your employer into believing you were an expert and were likely to be escorted off the premises at any moment. Or maybe you felt like sheer luck had carried you through life and now Lady Luck was going to start looking the other way. I have experienced these thoughts and I am not alone. It is estimated that up to 70% of the population will experience imposter syndrome, ‘a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure, despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful’, at some point.  Recent research indicates these feelings are particularly prevalent amongst millennials.  Frequently connected with anxiety, low confidence levels, unhealthy perfectionism, and risk averse behavior, imposter syndrome has significant consequences for personal well-being and long-term career development. In this article, I will explore imposter syndrome and its attributes in more detail, and suggest practical ways to address these limiting beliefs.   What is Imposter Syndrome? First…

[Infographic] BrightWork New Release – Charting, Performance and Usability

This week BrightWork released a new version of our project portfolio management solution for SharePoint. This release is all about improving reporting performance, ease-of-use, and facilitating the delivery of training to new users. The highlights of this release are outlined in the infographic below. Enjoy and remember you can try out the advancements and more in our 30 Day FREE trial!      

The Latest Release of BrightWork Has Arrived – Gorgeously Simple Project Portfolio Management on SharePoint

Today, BrightWork announced the latest release of our project portfolio management solution for SharePoint.  Supporting our mission to deliver gorgeous simplicity to their software, the latest version of BrightWork is all about performance and ease-of-use to make it as easy as possible for customers to successfully manage projects and portfolios with SharePoint. “At BrightWork, our mission is to deliver a gorgeously simple project management solution based on SharePoint, to make project management success a reality for every organization,” says Éamonn McGuinness, CEO of BrightWork. According to Fintan Manning, VP of Engineering, ‘Usability is the first pillar of performance. With that in mind, we have focused on several new features and improvements to existing features to enhance usability and performance.’  He adds, ‘These features will make it easier to get started with projects quickly as well as when evolving your implementation over time.’   Key highlights of the new BrightWork release include: Charting The latest release introduces a new style of charting, offering a more modern and elegant look and feel.  In addition to the improved visualization, the charts are now interactive with hover-over functionality, the ability to highlight particular data sets, turn chart items on and off in the legend.  Other enhancements…

Six Sigma Methods and Project Management [Guest Post]

In the late 1980s, the Six Sigma method gained popularity amongst various project management systems across the globe. Six Sigma refers to a carefully designed set of tools and techniques that help to improve and enhance the performance of processes within an organization. It is a data driven approach to find and remove errors in an organization using various tools and techniques. Six Sigma provides statistics to determine the cause of the error and the reason for such an issue. Six Sigma is a business strategy that focuses on reaching a better understanding of customer requirements, improving business systems throughout the organization, and enhancing the organization’s financial performance. This approach is consumer centric and leads to efficiency and growth.   Application of Six Sigma  In 2002, Adem Anbar pointed out that Six Sigma was more comprehensive than various prior quality initiatives such as Total Quality Management (TQM) & Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) in an organization. The Six Sigma Method consists of two perspectives that aim to deliver excellence in various functions of an organization. Anbar summarized the Six Sigma management method as follows:   DMAIC process (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) DMAIC is a closed process that eliminates unproductive steps,…

The Business Case for Project Portfolio Management Software

You would think because project management is a relatively old and mature discipline, it would be practiced successfully everywhere, and there wouldn’t be many failed projects. Unfortunately, this is not the case. What we find is a landscape littered with delayed, challenged, and unfortunately, failed projects. Unfortunately, while we would think that project management is easy and natural, careful and effective project management is still needed. Deploying a project portfolio management solution will help you get projects under control and on the right track. FREE EBOOK: PROJECT & PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE EVALUATION GUIDE Project Management Quiz Let’s start with a few questions to assess the state of project management in your organization: Are all your projects performing to expectations? Have you real-time visibility into all projects? Are all the individuals involved skilled and trained in Project Management? Are there templates (i.e. guidance) on how to deliver projects collaboratively?   If the answered “No” to some or all of the above questions, it may be helpful to deploy a solution to support your project management initiatives. The Cost of Failed Projects One of the biggest reasons to invest in a PPM solution is the bottom line.  Failed projects are a waste of…

17 Effective Time Management Tips for Busy Entrepreneurs [Guest Post]

Are you overburdened with a heavy workload? Is entrepreneurship a bit of a nightmare for you? Maybe it’s time you developed some effective time-management skills! Managing time strategically is not rocket science! From the nascent phase of your business, you must get methodical. So, be thoughtful in making smart decisions during this stage. Set achievable goals and measure your performance on a regular basis. It helps to transform sky-high resolution into reality. Schedule your activities in advance and keep your business documents in an organized manner. This way, unnecessary stress can be avoided during rush hours. Instead of praying for more hours, think about how to use your entire day efficiently. Wake up early and pick harder tasks to get done before anything else. It relieves your mind from getting bogged down by your jam-packed task list. In the course of your business venture, bring necessary amendments to your working procedure. But how can you do that? Study the market thoroughly. Look at how things are working for successful business owners as well as your competitors. You may also get involved in unimportant affairs. Ensure that you don’t waste your valuable time engaged in unproductive activities. Want to know more…

How to Work Effectively with Your Project Sponsor

Think back to your most recent successful project. What factors contributed to the desired outcome? A clear purpose supported by a detailed plan? Access to the right resources at the right time? An engaged team? A little bit of luck? Although a number of elements underpin project success, access to an active project sponsor is the most important, and perhaps, the most elusive. If you are struggling to work with your project sponsor, read on for practical tips and insights to leverage this relationship. Who is a Project Sponsor? Often holding a senior position within the organization, the project sponsor is responsible for initiating and approving the project and supporting the project manager during execution. The project sponsor identifies the business need behind the project, helps the project manager to keep work on track, and ensures the organization enjoys the full benefits of the final deliverables. The project sponsor should possess a strong appreciation of your organization’s strategic goals, understand their role as sponsor, exert influence, and have some project management experience. It also important to consider the personality, temperament, and skill-set of any project sponsor. Some key attributes to look for are: A strategic, innovative mindset High emotional intelligence…

The Upcoming BrightWork New Release: Enhanced Charting, Performance, Usability, and Training

At BrightWork, we want to deliver a gorgeously simple project management software solution to make successful project portfolio management possible for every organization.  In the coming weeks, the latest release of our solution for SharePoint will become available, offering better performance, enhanced charting, improved usability, and a training zone. Let’s take a look at the benefits of each capability.   1. Better Performance Reports are an invaluable tool for project teams so, in this release, we have improved cross site reporting and reporter caching. Cross site reporting In previous versions, if a user wanted to view a report, they had to wait for the page and all data to load before any information appeared on-screen. In the new release, the web page loads first, followed by Reporter web parts. Thanks to the addition of an activity indicator, users know the data is loading, reducing the temptation to refresh the page and allowing you to start interacting with the page immediately.     Open Work and Project Cache Customers need to pull lots of data from multiple sites and multiple lists, together in a central report quickly. As your project implementation evolves to incorporate more projects and data sources, you will…

Project Portfolio Management: 5 Benefits and 5 Common Mistakes

In case you aren’t familiar with the term, project portfolio management (PPM) is distinct from project management; rather than taking on a single project and seeing it through to completion, PPM involves the collective management of an entire portfolio of projects. PPM managers are responsible for determining what projects to take on, when to take them on, the profitability and priority of those projects (including how they change over time), and how to allocate resources in the most efficient way to complete those projects. Here are some of the benefits of project portfolio management and some of the most common mistakes to avoid when practicing the discipline. Benefits of Project Portfolio Management Benefit #1 -Better Decision Making Our first branch of PPM benefits concerns its ability to drive better business decisions. To make good decisions, you need good data, making visibility crucial from both a strategic, top-down perspective and from a tactical bottoms-up perspective. When you have a firm handle on past project metrics, it makes it much easier to predict future factors like resource utilization. Moreover, when you know what is happening in your current project portfolio, you can find out which projects are not contributing to corporate objectives. As…

[CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT] – Universal Health Services, Inc.

Company Overview Universal Health Services, Inc. is one of the largest and most respected hospital management companies in the United States. Founded in 1978 the company operates through its subsidiaries more than 350 acute care hospitals, behavioral health facilities and ambulatory centers in the US, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the United Kingdom. More than 81,000 dedicated and talented employees treat more than 2.5 million people each year in this Fortune 500 Company. In this interview, Michelle Boyes, Project Manager, explains how the PMO team is using BrightWork to deliver and manage multiple projects.   What is your experience of Project Management at Universal Health Services, Inc (UHS)? I have been a Project Manager with UHS for 8 years and I currently sit on the Project Management Office (PMO) team which falls under the corporate Information Services (IS) umbrella.   The PMO Team is a busy one: 9 team members Supporting 3 divisions of IS employees, 330+ employees: 1. Behavioral Health 2. Acute 3. Enterprise teams  Overseeing an average of 150+ active projects at any one time.     We use BrightWork for project portfolio management and have been doing so for 7+ years. The PMO team typically…

How to Survive and Thrive in Your New Project Management Job

As a millennial who graduated from university in 2010 at the height of an economic crisis, I’ve switched between jobs and between roles in the same organization a few times in recent years. No matter how much I pretended I was calm and collected, I was pretty terrified and overwhelmed every time. There is just so much ‘newness’ to contend with – the commute, your colleagues, lunch habits, what to wear, the job itself, clients, the industry.  There are the inevitable feelings of panic that you’ve made a horrible mistake and sadness on your last day with your previous employer. But, there is also excitement, anticipation, and  energy. Your new role is a fresh opportunity to move closer towards your career goals. With a little planning and forethought, you can reduce the stress of changing roles, and maximize your first few days and months on the job. In this article, I’m going to share some general tips for your first day, and suggestions for creating a 90-day plan. Let’s get started.   Preparing for Your First Day No doubt, you want to make a stellar first impression. You are ready to dive straight in and make everyone believe you are…

10 Project Management Interview Questions You Need to Prepare For

Do you have an upcoming interview for a project management position? Be prepared to answer a combination of behavioral and situational-based interview questions aimed at revealing your leadership, communication, and organizational skills. The interviewers will likely also probe your experience of dealing with difficult team members,  and your project management failures and successes.  To help you breeze through the interview, here are 10 common questions you need to prepare for.   1. Tell me a little bit about your career path, how did you move into Project Management? The classic open ender. You can expect to hear this one in any interview setting, not just project management roles. This is a chance for you to set the tone for the interview and give the interviewer an overview of your career history while highlighting your key competencies and skills. Have something prepared for this and be wary of the length of your answers. This is not an opportunity to filibuster the interview; be succinct and engaging with your answer.   2. What are your favorite aspects of being a PM? Another of the ‘softer’ questions you will likely be asked in the early stages of the interview. You can use this…

Project Reporting Round-Up: 9 Must-Read Resources

It goes without saying that timely, accurate project reports are paramount to successful project management. Whether you are checking project status, resource allocation, risks, or upcoming tasks, reports provide a single source of data to keep everyone on the same page. To help you maximize project reports, I have gathered nine useful resources covering a range of essential topics.   7 Benefits of Project Reporting: Let’s get back to basics. If you or anyone on your team doubts the importance of project reporting, you should read this article.   Top 5 Types of Project Management Reports (Video): Jennifer Whitt explores five essential project report types: timesheets, resource workload, expenses, status, and portfolio reports.   5 Common Project Reporting Mistakes to Avoid: Project reports take time to prepare. Don’t undo your hard work with a simple and avoidable mistake.   Status Reporting, Clarity, And Accountability: George Pitagorsky explains the purpose and benefits of status reports as a tool for moving forward, documenting project learnings, and identifying areas for improvement.   Everything You Should Include in Your Project Status Report (Checklist): Staying with project status reports, this handy checklist will ensure your report contains everything you need every time. The additional tips and…

High Turnover? 8 Strategies for Employee Retention [Guest Post]

A high turnover rate is always an unwelcome sign, especially for project managers who rely on a committed team. The scouting and rehiring process costs precious money and time, resources that could be better used on completing company projects. Fortunately, there are ways to retain your workforce that don’t just rely on giving raises. Here are eight organic strategies that can improve your employee retention rate. 1. Focus on the Interview Process In the case of employee retention, the root of any potential problems lies within the job interview process. Regardless of how much you want an employee to stay, no amount of persuasion will change their mind if they’ve already decided to jump ship. The only solution is to hire the best of the bunch and then proceed to balance out your personal hiring goals with their professional aspirations within the company. 2. Offer Positive Feedback Employees thrive on feedback, both positive and critical. It’s easy to blow it out of proportion, however, and sometimes managers forget to say anything due to busy or stressful work days. According to a study posted on Harvard Business Review, the ideal proportion between positive and corrective feedback is 5.6 to 1. Let…

5 Common Project Reporting Mistakes to Avoid

A report is described as a document with key information covering a specific time period, and communicated in oral or written form. Or, more commonly, the bane of every project manager’s life! Between gathering data, accommodating the needs of every stakeholder, formatting, and getting the document distributed on time, project reports are often a time-consuming task. However, there is no denying the value of reports both as a means of controlling your project and improving team communication. If you want to make reports a little easier to prepare and more useful for your audience, try to avoid these five common mistakes.   1. Not Including What Your Audience Actually Needs   Project teams and stakeholders are busy people who are unlikely to appreciate anything that wastes their time. Before creating a report, take a step back to consider what information your audience needs to support your project. Ideally, the communication preferences of each audience were documented during the project planning phase. Refer to the communication plan to identify key factors such as  the frequency or format of a report. If the plan doesn’t exist – just ask! As the project progresses, remember to check in with report recipients periodically to…

Artificial Intelligence in Project Management [Guest Post]

Now, there are quite a few things that you would need to take into account when it comes to project management and the dynamic technological environment that we live in is definitely one of them. We live in a world in which technology is advancing at the blink of an eye, making it particularly important for any enterprise to consider its approaches with the upcoming changes. Of course, some changes already here while others are far from being reached. One example is artificial intelligence. This is also commonly referred to as cognitive computing and it is something that’s quickly making inroads into certain professional services. The emerging technology is most definitely going to have a significant impact on jobs across different industries including health care, finance, and the legal world. Even though it’s going to change jobs,  AI is also going to create new ones. There are quite a few things which would have to be accounted for when talking about project management in the world of cognitive computing. Below you will find a few examples of the ways artificial intelligence can and will impact project management in the not so distant future. 1. Methods, Practices, and Tools The AI…

4 Tips for Project Management Reporting

No matter what project management tool you are using, one of the most important capabilities you will have is the ability to quickly and easily report on project data and share that information with the relevant audiences in a format that works for them. Having accurate, up-to-date, and accessible project reports is critical to understanding how a project is progressing and helps the team to make better,more informed decisions. Since project reports provide the visibility to deliver necessary successful projects, I wanted to put together some reporting best practices to help kick-start your reporting efforts! The examples we are using in this blog are based on SharePoint project management reporting and BrightWork, but these ideas could be applicable to project management reporting in general. Your project reporting is only as good as the data you put it You know the saying: “garbage in, garbage out,” and of course, that is going to be true with your project portfolio management as well. On any project, you will have many people updating and looking for information in the project site.  Therefore, you need to make sure that all the data entry points are grooming the data as it is entered.  Make sure there are processes in…

5 Critical Success Factors for Project Management Improvement

For over twenty years, BrightWork has worked with customers across lots of sectors. In that time, we’ve learned a few things about successful project management!  In this blog post,  I outline the five factors we have identified as being essential for successful project management and project management improvement in any organization. To help you on your journey, I have included self-assessment questions to help you identify any missing factors. The practical implementation of the factors with three BrightWork customers is demonstrated in this free ebook.   1. Executive Sponsorship Definition: Senior management recognize Project Management as a strategic capability and necessity for the organization, and desires to improve this capability. Executive sponsorship can mean one senior executive is supporting a company effort or even better, the entire senior management team. The effort, in this case, is the improvement of project management across the company. Oftentimes, when you picture an executive sponsor, you see someone who has a “seat at the table” but is disconnected from the day to day running of the business.  They simply secure the funding and initial resources needed for a project and disappear until the project is completed. This is not the type of executive sponsorship…

Why Is PMP Certification Important to Your Career? [Guest Post]

Project managers don’t need a PMP to do project management work, but having the certification will significantly improve opportunities for substantial increases in pay. Why? The certification carries weight in organizations and companies because it codifies how a project manager works. Some companies may even require a certification, as most federal workplaces do since 2016. Let’s look at the benefits of a PMP certification, what’s required to get it, and what kind of work and salary to expect afterwards.   The Benefits of a PMP Certification Last year, President Obama signed into law the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act. The aim was for federal government employees to be more efficient in their jobs, by codifying and standardizing the training of project managers. As a result, more federal jobs now require an official PMP certification of any project and program manager seeking to work in the federal government. But the benefits are not limited to work in the U.S. The PMP certification is global. Unlike many other certifications that focus on a particular geography or domain, a PMP can work in virtually any industry and in any location. And PMPs are sought after by employers. Studies show that when more…

How to Advance Your Project Management Career

In today’s business environment, the traditional ‘job for life’ doesn’t exist anymore. The average person changes jobs up to fifteen times over the course of their career, with an average job duration of five years. Reasons for changing jobs are numerous and vary by individual circumstance and career trajectory. In this age of job-hopping, it’s important to cultivate transferrable, in-demand skills to propel your career. Project management is one such skill. By 2027, employers will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management oriented roles, both as full-time project managers and as individuals with some project responsibilities. Even if you are not pursuing a career as a project manager, you should consider developing some core skills and competencies to remain competitive in the job market. In this article, I’ll explore key trends in project management recruitment and how to set achievable career goals. Project Management Career Trends      Project management is a growth industry and is showing no signs of slowing down.  In addition to adding 87.7 million roles to the global economy, the project management profession is expected to grow by USD$6.61 trillion between 2010 and 2020. This expansion incorporates sectors traditionally reliant upon project management such as construction, and less project-oriented industries such as healthcare…

Create a Project My Work Report in SharePoint

So let’s say you’ve gone through the effort of creating a project management site template in SharePoint, complete with all sorts of lists for capturing all important project related data. Good for you! You’re well on your way to using SharePoint in one of the best ways it was intended to be used. But what good is all that data if it’s hidden away in various corners of the project site – wouldn’t it be better if that information bubbled its way up to more readily accessible locations on the site? Of course! I’ll show you one way to do just that in this post. We’ll be creating a new “My Work” page that will report on tasks and issues assigned to me (in this case “me” and “my” equate to the user currently logged into the SharePoint site and viewing the page). The first thing you’ll want to do is ensure that you have the underlying lists “Tasks” and “Issue Tracking” as part of the site; these two list apps should be available to you out of the box with SharePoint as part of the template gallery. Feel free to add or hide columns on these lists to match your data gathering preferences.     Next…

A Quick Guide to the Project Management Office (PMO)

I recently introduced key concepts and ideas relating to project portfolio management. PPM helps organizations to deliver projects in line with agreed strategic business goals; it’s about the right projects at the right time. Of course, even when the best projects are selected, how can an organization ensure the work is completed to the desired standards? This responsibility often falls to the project management office (PMO). Read on to learn more about the PMO, including benefits, PMO frameworks, and introducing a PMO to your organization.   What is a Project Management Office? A project management office refers to a group or department within a business responsible for defining and maintaining project management standards throughout the organization. The structure and size of project management offices vary from one organization to another according to business needs, available resources, and project management maturity. PMOs are typically departmentally based with many organizations operating several PMOs.   PMO Responsibilities and Benefits     According to the Project Management Institute, PMOs completed an average of US$100 million worth of projects in 2012 and delivered around US$71 million in value through revenue increases and/or cost reductions. The primary function of the PMO is to create and distribute…

3 Ways To Kick-Start Your Project Management Career

From healthcare to construction, project managers are needed in all industries and organizations for a simple reason: project managers are responsible for getting things done! Some project managers are answerable for numerous roles in a project whilst others delegate roles and tasks to other project members. The project manager then ensures the project progresses smoothly. It’s often assumed if you’ve just recently finished formal education, you shouldn’t consider getting into a project management role as your first job. I disagree with this opinion. Project Management is now an integral part of most positions across all industries from entry level right up to senior management. In fact, many educational courses now consider project work as part of the overall evaluation of a student. I do agree that if you are just joining the workforce you will typically be looking for entry level positions like analyst and co-ordinator roles. These types of roles will give you exposure to the project environment and, at the same time, allow you to build up both your technical and organizational knowledge. However, if you are jumping in at the deep end, here are some tips to stay afloat and kick-start a long, happy career in project management.…

Project Reporting Explained! [Video]

Reports are arguably the most valuable tool available to project teams. From tracking and visibility to risk management and cost control, reports allow team members and stakeholders to stay on top of projects and avoid failure. Unfortunately, daily tasks and unexpected issues often push reports to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list. If you or a team member need a quick reminder as to why reports are so important, check out our introductory video which explains the function and benefits of reports, and potential consequences of neglecting this critical tool. Watch to learn more about: How to gain insight into how your project is performing, regardless of size Why reports are for everyone on the team Using reports to track tasks and progress Making informed, data-driven decisions with reports Learning and knowledge sharing.       For additional tips and tricks for getting the most from your reports, try these blog posts and resources: 7 Benefits of Project Reporting Project Report Types 4 Tips for Project Management Reporting Improve Project Clarity with Emailed Reports SharePoint Reporting for Project and Portfolio Management [on-demand webinar].   Image credit 

How to Engage Project Sponsors to Keep Projects on Track

One of the most difficult parts of the job for a new project manager is managing the relationships and expectations with senior executives and project sponsors. For a variety of reasons, project updates are often inaccurate and not provided to them in a timely manner.  As a result, sponsors and senior executives don’t participate in the project to the fullest extent possible. It’s not that they don’t want to be helpful, as they have a vested interest in the successful delivery of the project.  But when they don’t have a clear picture of the state of the project, it is hard to give quality feedback to help guide projects in the right direction. Don’t turn sponsors into roadblocks.  With open and accurate communication, you can turn them into enablers who can help get a project back on track when they are needed. The importance of open communication with project sponsors It’s important that the project manager keeps executives and project sponsor up-to-date on the progress of a project, even when it’s all good news.  This will help you build a relationship and rapport with the project sponsor.  Having this kind of open communication and trust will make it easier to indicate to…

What is Project Portfolio Management?

Until recently, I had no idea what project portfolio management, also known PPM or portfolio management, was. Like many people, I’m an ‘accidental’ project manager, someone who has to manage projects from time to time to deliver my work but is not a qualified professional project manager. I can just about get my head around managing one project at a time, never mind worrying about multiple projects! My interest in project portfolio management was sparked after I read two surveys on the status of project management in 2017. The surveys from the Project Management Institute and KPMG outline the importance of successful projects to strategic commercial goals, highlighting the role of PPM in delivering those projects. I dug a little deeper into PPM, and have put together some key ideas for anyone new to this discipline.   What is Project Portfolio Management? A portfolio is a collection of projects grouped together; an organization may have one overall portfolio or several portfolios for different areas of the business. Project portfolio management refers to “the centralized management of one or more project portfolios to achieve strategic objectives”. In essence, project portfolio management ensures all approved and ongoing projects meet strategic objectives, and…

Cross Cultural Project Management: Recognize, Respect and Reconcile

Today, project managers need to be prepared to work with and manage multicultural teams that can span the globe. As Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” states –  if we are to remain competitive in a global economy, we must all be on a continuous journey of learning and curiosity. Many project managers believe that cultural differences can be as detrimental as outdated or inefficient technology is. The members of your project team live and express their culture every day. Instead of avoiding cultural differences, managers and teams should embrace them in a proactive manner. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner describe 3 steps to help you steer your multicultural team in a triumphant direction. Here are the steps:   1.     Recognize and allow for cultural diversity Every human being is different with unique traits, skills, likes, and dislikes, which should be acknowledged from the outset. As the project manager, aim to understand the business culture of each member of your project. Research your team members. Find out the business culture they are used to working in. Have you worked with them before? Do you know someone who has or someone who can give you tips on how the team member works?…

Your Checklist for Effective Communication [Infographic]

To build on my post from last week –  Seven Communication Secrets of Great Leaders  – we know communication is the language of leadership! With that, some key objectives of a leader who aspires to be a great communicator are to; successfully convey the goals and desired results, gain support for goals, and build rapport with the stakeholders and those whom they are responsible for leading in the process. And you can check out the seven secrets here! This week, I bring you a checklist for effective communication, lead by 7 C’s. The 7 C’s of effective communication provides a useful structured checklist, resulting in both written and verbal communication processes performed in a clear, concrete, target group-oriented and well-structured manner. At work and at home, we can almost spend our entire day communicating. So, how can we provide a huge boost to our productivity? We can make sure that we communicate in the clearest, most effective way possible. Use this infographic checklist below to pave your way to effective communication:     What are your next steps? Is it to create a project communication plan? Check out a recent post from my colleague Grace, How to Create a Project Communication Plan Is there…

Seven Communication Secrets of Great Leaders

The art of communication is the language of leadership – James Humes Good leaders, effective leaders, understand and realize they need to be great communicators. In addition, they understand that the art of two-way communication is imperative in order to be effective. Not only does an efficient leader need to be good at speaking, they also have to be good at listening to feedback, ideas, opinions, and constructive criticism, responding accordingly to meet the desired outcome. A description from John Baldoni‘s publication Great Communication Secrets of Great Leaders which resonates highly with me states; “leaders who become better communicators automatically enhance their value as a leader”. As we all know, the communication approach and method from any leader within an organization has a huge impact on the fellow people or employees, as it shapes the way in which we think, talk about and perform. “Leaders need to do more than just stand up and speak. They need to integrate communications into everything they do as leaders so that their communications, both oral and written, emerge from who they are as leaders and within the appropriate cultural context. Leaders who fail in communications will fail to achieve their organizational aims” –…

5 Tips to Help You Pass Your Project Management Qualification Exams [Guest Post]

The pressure of an upcoming exam is enough to make even the most confident and skilled individual feel stressed or anxious. This is particularly true when talking about a project management qualification exam. Regardless of whether you are working on PMP, Agile or PRINCE2, these qualifications have the ability to catapult someone into a very successful career and are highly sought after in their respective industries. In order to improve your chances of getting the marks you need and passing your exams, you will need to take some steps to ensure that you perform to the best of your ability.   1. Break things down If you have a lot of content to get through and many different areas to learn before your exam, then it is essential that you take the time to break tasks down to make them easier to understand. Often students get overwhelmed with the amount of material they need to revise for which can cause panic, limiting the amount of information you take in.   2. Seek help Thanks to the internet, you are never too far away from having access to the answers to any questions you may have. If you are struggling with…

3 Communication Skills for Project Managers to Master using TED Talks

Communication is one of the truly key skills that project managers need to develop in order to drive their project success. From their ability to listen and negotiate to their public speaking skills, project managers need to be excellent and rounded communicators. Of course, communication is a skill which needs to be developed and continuously honed over time so let’s turn to TED Talks for the best content to help us on our way to becoming great communicators. TED Talks has become an absolutely incredible resource, with truly helpful and inspiring presentations given by tremendous individuals the world over.  Here are 3 Communication Skills for Project Managers to Master using TED Talks, with 6 brilliant presentations that are well worth your time. Get bookmarking! 1- Master Negotiation William Ury’s ‘The walk from no to yes’ is an 18-minute masterclass on negotiation. Ury lays out the way to create agreement in even the most difficult situations — from family conflict to the Middle East. So this approach must surely be enough for project managers to excel in those tricky negotiations with project stakeholders and contributors! Learn about the different ‘sides of conflict‘ and how to satisfy all parties and find that “18th camel”…

8 Ways to Create Engaging PowerPoint Presentations

In a recent post, I outlined 13 ways to prepare and deliver exceptional presentations for your projects. In this article, I’m going to share 8 tips and additional resources for creating engaging slide decks.   1. Content Outline A great design cannot save poor content so take time to research and prepare your presentation. Develop an outline of the presentation, taking the audience, your objectives, and timings into account. It’s best to focus on one key idea, which is divided into 2-3 supporting points.    2. One Idea per Slide Despite what we like to think, humans are not wired to multitask. Your audience cannot read a dense slide, listen to you, and understand your message at the same time. In reality, you only have about 3 seconds for someone to view a slide and grasp the meaning before switching their attention back to you. Each slide should have just one idea; use as many slides as you need to! Use slide notes to capture any extra information you need to remember and practice in advance.   3. Themes Visual consistency helps your audience to grasp your message quickly, making a template essential. Before jumping into the design of your slides, find out…

How to Improve your Project Management Skills [Guest Post]

In most instances, the best way to improve your project management skills is to dive into a project and experience successes and fails first-hand. However, if you feel as though you have reached a point where your progress has stagnated and you want to take your project management to the next level, there are a few ways in which you can give your project management skills a bit of a boost.   Engage the team regularly With only half of the information available, you can only do half a job. In order to more effectively manage a project and a team, you should engage with them regularly through meetings and stand-ups. In these meetings, you review the progress of the project – what’s been done, what’s being done, and what needs to be done – and address any questions or issues that you or the team may have about the project. Make sure you stay on topic in these meetings and spend a couple of minutes to allow each person to tell the rest of the team what they have on their agenda for the day. This ensures that not only are you up to date on what’s going on…

How to Analyze Business Strategy to Improve Your Projects

Delivering successful projects enables organizations to reach their strategic objectives quickly with enhanced long-term commercial results. Connecting projects to organizational strategy can improve projects in several areas including preparation of business cases, request management, planning and resource allocation, risk management, budget control, and collaboration. This post introduces some tools and frameworks – PESTEL and SWOT/TOWS – to help you perform an evaluation of your organization’s current strategic position.   What is a Business Strategy? Before starting the analysis, I want to define what exactly Strategy is.  Johnson & Scholes (2005) define strategy as “the direction and scope of an organization over the long term”. Porter (1995) describes strategy as “a process of analysis which is designed to achieve the competitive advantage of an organization over another in the long term”. This definition again stresses the “long-term” approach which could set the direction and success of your company over the next five to ten years. Robbins and DeCenzo (2013) emphasize the importance of organizational strategy and detail a nine-step framework that involves strategic planning, implementation, and evaluation. The first seven steps involve strategic planning while the last two focus on the execution and evaluation of the strategy. A merging of the external…