Improve Your Project Management Processes with Repeatable Best Practices

A common problem in many organizations is that the same project management miscues happen again and again. One of the primary factors contributing to this issue is that the companies don’t have a defined set of standards for project managers to follow. We have found that a lot of the time, the people managing projects are not “Project Managers” by trade or title, but rather capable folks who just end up managing a project out of necessity. Project Managers By Accident as we call them! When the people managing projects are not formally trained in project management and the organization doesn’t have a set of procedures and guidelines for a new project manager to follow, they end up making up their own processes, which leads to a lot of problems down the road. Implement a Common Approach to Project Management In order to avoid some of the more common project management pitfalls, it’s important for your organization to have a common project management approach that will guide project managers through the main phases of project management. For example, here is a very simple approach to project management made up of five stages: For any organization, having a common way of…

9 Benefits of Having Great Project Management

When an organization takes on a project,  managers are tasked with finding ways to produce results on time and, ideally, under budget. For smaller projects, this task may not present an issue. For large projects, however, particularly those carried out by several teams in different locations, a methodology becomes crucial to streamline the process and reduce the potential for error. Fortunately, project managers focus on precisely this issue. Project management is a system of tools and processes to help managers analyze how their projects are doing. While there are multiple approaches to choose from, all project management methodologies offer numerous benefits to organizations. This list highlights nine notable benefits for using project management to oversee and improve the delivery of goods or services.   9 Benefits of Having Great Project Management 1. Improved Efficiency Project management provides a system of tools to reduce unnecessary costs and reduce the potential for error in a project. With less time lost to unexpected problems or expenses, services can be delivered quickly and effectively.   2. Higher Customer Satisfaction The reduced costs and increased efficiency of project management lead to satisfied customers. When customers receive satisfactory performance that is both faster and cheaper, it…

A Quick Guide to the Project Management Office (PMO)

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. In a more recent study, the PMI found 80% of organizations with a strong project management culture have an active…

Introducing Project Management in your Organization

We’ve all heard the seemingly endless list of “common project management mistakes.”  Here are a few quick examples to refresh your memory: senior executives don’t have up-to-date project information; project issues and risks are not being tracked or managed; the project schedule is out of whack and was unrealistic to begin with; there are no clear lines of communication. Project sponsors and stakeholders lose visiblity. And the list goes on… We’re all aware of these common problems that plague projects all the time.  I think a lot of them boil down to a lack of project management knowledge/process in the organization.  We see it every day – customers whose project managers are using a smorgasbord of tools and approaches to managing projects that don’t make sense to anybody but the project manager!  That type of environment is like the Wild West.  You can’t effectively manage projects when there’s no methodology in place to start with, and perhaps even worse is that there is no chance to capture lessons learned to improve organizational best practices. Many times, the underlying cause is that project managers do not have the proper knowledge or training to effectively manage a project.  So, the first step on…

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. This vital relationship should not be overlooked. In ‘Pulse of the Profession 2018‘, the Project Management Institute reports organizations with engaged sponsors report 40% more successful projects than those with a lower percentage of projects with sponsors (less than 50% of their projects). At BrightWork, we have also identified active project sponsorship as a critical project success factor. Often, poor communication tool is the root cause of inadequate sponsorship engagement.  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 provide guidance. 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…

6 Simple Steps to Start any Project

Getting your project off the ground can be a difficult task at the best of times and it can often be hard to even know where to start! Fear not, for there are a few simple steps that you can begin to take today that will ensure you get your work done on time and done well.   1. Define Your Goals First things first: decide what you want to achieve. This is done by ensuring you put a lot of thinking into what your goals are for your project. I suggest having one main goal and a number of smaller goals that will ultimately lead you to project success. Coincidentally, I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago detailing how you can develop SMART goals which you can read more about here!   2. Identify Your Team Members The second step on the ladder to beginning any project is the identification of the various team members to be involved. This step must be considered from a number of viewpoints: firstly, who do you already have? Identify their strengths and weaknesses and make further actions off the back of these. Secondly, who do you need? Spot gaps in your team based…

Save Time by Managing Your Email [Infographic]

How much time do you think you spend on email each day? What if I told you, for every 5 extra, unnecessary minutes (yes, they are unnecessary!) each day you spend on email – you have just lost 1 full year of your work life. Here’s how we reached this number:     In Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook, BrightWork CEO and book author, Éamonn McGuinness outlines a six-step process to help you become more efficient in processing your email, and as a result become way more productive with your time. Below is a summary of the process. For more details, download a free copy of the handbook! P.S  If you use Outlook, you’ll like this blog post, Four Tips to Save Time When Using Outlook.     Related Articles Four Tips to Save Time When Using Outlook Personal Energy Audit: 5 Emotional Factors Four Ways To Save Time On Your Projects With BrightWork and SharePoint Image credit    Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

7 Irish Sayings to Make You a Better Project Manager

On March 17th, communities around the world gather together to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s most famous holiday.  As a nation, the Irish are well-known for having ‘the gift of the gab’,  a natural ability to speak in an entertaining and persuasive way. With that in mind, I have put together a list of seven Irish sayings to inspire you and your project team. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!   However long the day, the evening will come Meaning: We all struggle with projects that seem to go wrong at every turn. By its very definition, a project has a start and end date so just hang in there – the project will finish at some point.   You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind Meaning: Procrastination is the enemy of a productive project team. Spending too long planning a project, worrying about risks, or delaying a task until the time is right means you will never get any work done.     Three best to have in plenty – sunshine, wisdom, and generosity Meaning: Whilst we cannot control the weather, maintaining a positive attitude and practicing generosity whenever possible can elevate your overall mood and outlook.…

Four Task Management Styles to Boost Your Productivity [Guest Post]

Effective task management is critical to the success of your project.  Poor task management can lead to huge losses in time, resource, and money. According to the Project Management Institute, companies lose a whopping $122 million for every $1 billion invested due to poor project performance. There is much that goes into effective task management. You need to deliver the project on time, unite teams and clients, and track the execution of each of the tasks ahead. And most importantly, you need to settle for a management style that works for you and your team. There are quite a lot of task management styles out there. Whether you are looking to categorize fifty projects at once, or you are simply hoping to color-code your tasks, it is all about you. Let’s take a look at four different task management styles – Matrices, Boards, To-Do lists, and Timelines – you can adapt to efficiently manage your tasks to completion.   1. Matrices Regardless of the size of your project, the work descriptions should have a clear definition. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an international collaboration kind-of-a-project or simply a 10 person team. Everyone onboard needs to understand their role, and how to prioritize…

Tracking Project and Non-Project Activities in SharePoint

BrightWork is well known as a wonderful environment to capture all of your project related tasks, and I will provide some info about how to easily and effectively do just that in this article. BrightWork is also a great place to capture, manage, and report on non-project related work (and there’s a lot of that going on every day!) – more about this later on.   Tracking Project Work Tracking all of your project work in BrightWork is very straightforward.  Choose a project related template to start from, such as Project Lite/Standard/Structured, or Projects and Work Tracker (among others). Select the type of work you want to track such as Tasks, Goals, Issues, and Risks. Locate the relevant list along the Quick Launch of the project site (down the left side of the page). Create a new piece of work by either clicking ‘New’ towards the top of the list, or by clicking on an existing work item and choose to ‘Edit’ it with any progress you’ve made.         Tracking Non-Project Work Now what about that non-project work I mentioned earlier?  Easy – we have a pre-made template for that named appropriately enough “Work Tracker” (WT). With…

5 Ways to Get Users to Follow Your Local Project Methodology

Tell me if this scenario is familiar. You have lots of projects underway. You have many project managers, some trained and others not trained. Each one is using their own approach to project management.  In addition, project plans are being managed in email and Excel with project documents are floating around in obscure file locations. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. The absence of a consistent approach to project management has numerous impacts on organizations, including: Projects delivered too late or over budget – if at all! Failure to meet original goals or business objectives, leading to inadequate Benefits Realization. Poor stakeholder satisfaction Lack of change management processes, resulting in low user-adoption.   According to research conducted by the Project Management Institute, organizations waste an average of $97 million for every $1 billion invested, due to poor project performance. Wouldn’t it be better if you had a project management methodology to get this situation under control? With the introduction of any new process or business system, you’ll likely run into some resistance from users. The task becomes about managing the change and getting users to buy-in.  If you don’t make it easy for them to adopt the new approach, they will inevitably revert back to old habits! Here…

7 Women Leading the Way in IT Project Management

Today, March 8th is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. A day all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action. It marks a call to action for gender parity – not only for International Women’s Day, but for every day. This aim for equality infiltrates all industries and roles, including project management. Today we join the world in celebrating the success of women in different fields; in our case, project management success! “If we want the project management sector to thrive we need to ensure that we’re encouraging the widest pool of talent into the sector.”- Teri Okoro, WiPM SIG Chair, Association for Project Management.” Here are some of the women from the BrightWork customer community who are leading the way: Kim Norberg, IT Project Manager at APi Group tells us how they have implemented software across 50+ subsidiary companies. Sinéad Ní Fhaoláin, Head of Planning and Standards at the National University of Ireland tells us how they leverage SharePoint to manage the entire spread of project management. Rebecca Olvera, Project Manager at Chicago Housing Authority tells us how they now leverage SharePoint for faster and more consistent project reporting. Hannah Bayliss, Business Transformation Project Manager…

5 Factors for Choosing the Right Project Management Solution

I think it is safe to say that project management software is no longer a luxury, but really a necessity in this day and age.  Go ahead and do a simple Google search for “examples of failed projects” and you’ll get over 3 million results. Or just think about your own projects for a minute… are they all meeting your expectations?  I would wager that at least some of your projects are not performing the way you would like them to. I don’t think anyone would question you for wanting to implement a PM solution to get some control over those wayward projects.  The key is to pick the right one! Evaluating and selecting the best project portfolio management software for your organization is a challenge. In this blog post, we’ll identify five criteria that will help make your evaluation easier and more effective.   Product Features  1. Range of Functionality PPM software should fulfill your project management needs whatever they may be. Ask yourself three questions: What are your business needs? What is your team ready for right now? What project management processes do you aspire to adopt?   Make sure the solution you choose enables the functionality you…

[Customer Spotlight] – Triumph Group Leverage BrightWork for Project Maturity

Company Overview Founded in 1993, Triumph Group is a global leader in aerospace manufacturing and overhauling aerospace structures, systems, and components. With a combined annual revenue of over $4 billion (US dollars) and a workforce of 14,000 employees in 57 sites across North America, Europe, and Asia. Triumph participates at all levels of the aerospace supply chain – from single components to complex systems, aerospace structures to maintenance, overhaul and repair services. Triumph Group is a dependable partner at every stage of the aircraft life cycle.   Moving to a “One Triumph” Culture In 2016 Triumph Group embarked on a company-wide transformation to better adapt and succeed in today’s ever-changing, global marketplace. In addition to many operations and financial focused initiatives, the company implemented a new matrix organization structure, which involved the centralizing of functional processes and systems. For IT, it had a tremendous impact on project management. Historically, each Triumph operating site ran its own projects, which led to little visibility at the enterprise level. Due to the lack of a project management framework, Triumph was also suffering from projects missing deadlines, going over budget, or simply never ending. When Melissa Scheppele joined Triumph Group as Chief Information Officer…

Growing Organizational Project Management with SharePoint Templates

The BrightWork philosophy for project management is Start | Evolve. Start with the right amount of project management for your team and realize some immediate value. Evolve with feedback and experience, adding more project management process as you go. This reflects the reality that some projects require less process than others, whilst some teams are less experienced than others. It’s best to start on a small scale to secure user adoption before adding more complexity.       Here’s a look at a possible progression for scaling project management using the free SharePoint project management templates from BrightWork.   Start by Tracking Tasks Some projects require a very light amount of process, for example, a simple checklist of tasks. In this situation, a site like the Projects and Work Tracker is useful for tracking the high-level details of several projects. The template includes a Documents library, and Tasks and Issues lists to track items from multiple projects The site gives you a place to rapidly add project details and get stuck into the tasks quite quickly. This type of site is an excellent starting point for teams just beginning to deploy formal project management.     Move to individual project sites per project As your team…

Improve Your Projects with Problem Definition and Solution Definition

Project Management, in layman’s terms, is how organizations or individuals solve problems. Project Management could essentially be renamed “Problem Solving”, and Project Managers, “Problem Solvers”. Therefore, it is not surprising two key stages in project management are Problem Definition and Solution Definition.  In fact, these steps form part of our 5 success factors for project management improvement.    Oftentimes, these two phases of project management become diluted into one, with problems are mixed up with potential solutions. If this happens, issues will arise later in the project.   In this blog post, I will explain these two phases and how they are linked. I have also included some self-assessment questions you can use to gauge your effectiveness in the two stages.    1. Problem Definition  Definition: The group or individual understand and can prioritize the current challenges that they require to improve.  “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” –  Abraham Lincoln  A project is a plan of work that ideally gets you to the desired outcome. Before a project takes place, you really must think about and define why you are taking on the project. Take Abraham Lincoln’s advice! What are the issues…

Managing Recurring Tasks in SharePoint

Once in a while, I am asked about the possibility of managing recurring tasks in a SharePoint project. If you have a task that will happen every week, month or any regular schedule, it would be convenient to have these tasks automatically created. In SharePoint, it is possible to have recurring Calendar Events, but not Project Tasks, so if you need this feature, you would need to build it as a custom workflow using SharePoint Designer.   Design: Consider the following Scenario: A Project Manager would like to have a Task in the Project Plan for a team member to organize a weekly PMO meeting. The Task description will contain the details and agenda of the meeting and will be assigned to a Project team member. Rather than manually create a new task once a month, they would like the Task to be automatically created, once the previous Task is complete.   Build: The Project Task form in SharePoint is modeled to capture additional information used by the workflow to create the new recurring task. In summary, here are the additional columns added to the list.       Using the BrightWork Column Visibility Feature, the StatusCopy, NewStartDate and NewFinishDate Columns…

How to Create an Effective Project Schedule

Whilst planning your project schedule and timelines is no easy feat, getting the plan as right as possible before work commences is vital. After all, the plan will help you allocate resources, provide a baseline for performance management, and enable tracking as the project progresses. Of course, if you do develop a well-considered plan, you also need to work hard to ensure your team sticks to it. In this article, I’ll suggest a 10-step planning process and eight tips for helping your team maintain the schedule.   10 Steps for Developing Your Project Plan Step 1: Gather inputs Before you plan, you should refer to the project statement to understand the scope and goals of the project, resources, stakeholder expectations, and proposed schedules. If any risks were documented during the project initiation stage, review these risks so you can decide how much contingency to include in your schedule. Next, check in with the proposed team to figure out who is responsible for the deliverables, required tasks and phases, and the expected duration of key tasks or phases. You should also confirm if team members are working on multiple projects or have any upcoming vacation as these commitments could reduce availability.…

Project Management and SharePoint – Where’s the Fit?

Highly configurable, the SharePoint platform is perfectly suited to the function of project management. Before we can look at the benefits and possibilities of SharePoint for project management,  it’s important that we have a common understanding of what project management is, so we can map that process to a SharePoint site. I know that many of you involved in project management could give me a much better and richer definition of project management, but for the purposes of this example, we will use the following simple approach to show you why SharePoint is so suitable for project management.   Download our free templates to get started managing projects on SharePoint   What is Project Management? A Simple Version Project Management Processes This could include items like the project charter and goals, project issues and risks, tasks, and so on.  All of these are “sub-processes” of project management, which you will have to decide whether or not you want to manage when you initiate your project.   Project Management Reporting Clearly, in project management, we need lots of reporting – to know where we are and where we are not!  So this includes reports on things like overdue work, open or…

Four Ways To Save Time On Your Projects With BrightWork and SharePoint

Having a project management solution in place will really help you get projects under control in your organization.  And SharePoint is the perfect platform to achieve it! With BrightWork, you can extend Microsoft SharePoint to save time and manage projects more efficiently with project management templates, keeping everyone on the same page.  This blog will cover four ways that BrightWork and SharePoint save you time on your projects: Project management templates Quick and fast project reporting Automated project management processes BrightWork Template Design Sync.   1. Project management templates In our Collaborative Project Management Handbook, we suggest you decide the project management approach you are going to use during the “Initiate” phase of a project.  We also recommend creating a collaborative project management site to facilitate the process. This can be daunting for project managers, especially if their organization does not have any “formal” project management practices in place.  If this is the case, the project manager has to decide how they want to manage the project and try to figure the best tools to carry out that approach. Often, this leads to many different PMs in one organization using several different methods, essentially re-inventing the wheel every time a…

11 Ways to Improve Your Project Management Approach

It’s common to find multiple project management approaches within different departments or teams. In the absence of established templates or guidance, teams have to improvise every time a new project is launched. Unfortunately, this practice hinders project success and can negatively affect how end-users feel about the final deliverables. Using an agreed collaborative tool with configurable templates is a key step towards standardizing project management processes. However, you also need to consider processes and practices not managed by the tool, for example, team meetings or decision-making. Implementing agreed approaches to these common situations can save time when starting a new project; improve onboarding for new team members; generate better project plans, and create repeatable success. Below are 11 areas to consider working on with your team to develop standard ways of working for project planning, execution, and team dynamics.   Project Management Methodology Choosing a Project Management Methodology: Choosing your 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. This article briefly outlines five popular approaches – PRINCE2, Critical Path Management, Waterfall, Agile and Scrum – and includes some tips to determine…

A Quick Guide to ‘Getting Things Done’

I recently set the BrightWork blog team a challenge: pick a productivity method, try it for one month, and document your experiences. I decided to start the challenge in January with David Allen’s five-step approach to ‘Getting Things Done’ (GTD). So am I now a productivity guru who gets stuff done or a novice stuck figuring out what ‘stuff’ really is?   Getting Things Done: An Overview First published in 2001, GTD helps to reduce time wasted wondering what to do next and boosts your engagement with the task-at-hand. This engagement, dubbed ‘appropriate engagement’ by Allen is core to this method; it’s not about creating time to do more. As argued by Allen in the below TED Talk, shortage of time is not really a problem for most people. The challenge is not having room to think or ‘psyche bandwidth’ for more creative, meaningful work.  With so much information at our fingertips and multiple commitments, it’s easy to become overwhelmed or stressed and waste energy just doing things on auto-pilot. For Allen, our mind is for having ideas, not accumulating plans, so we need a process for documenting and clarifying our thoughts. This process also allows us to have the…

6 Benefits of Using a Project Management Solution

Project management is an incredibly important business discipline, essential to ensuring the success of strategic organizational initiatives.  But the fact of the matter is that many organizations do not have any proper project management processes in place, let alone a tool to support the methodology. Some folks might think that project management is nice, but “we’re doing alright with our current approach.” Maybe project managers and team members see the additional process or the implementation of a tool simply as more work they have to do, rather than a productive aid to help them achieve better results in their job. But project management is not a luxury. It’s not a “nice to have” in your organization.  If you want to drive your business forward and be more successful with strategic projects, then you need to get serious about project management – and fast.  There are certainly more you may think of, but here are 6 of my benefits of using a project management solution, that will help your entire team!   1. Implement a Standard Approach to Managing Projects Without a standard approach or project management tool, you’ll end up with lots of PMs using lots of different methods to manage projects.  When that happens, there’s no…

The 3 Ds for Managing Distractions!

We have found that the folks who find themselves easily distracted are the ones who have not set goals, have not organized their schedule to live their lives on purpose. Below is a summary diagram of our 5 step approach to time management.  You’ll see you should be very deliberate in setting your personal and professional goals, before planning out your week to achieve these goals – they cannot happen by accident!   However,  without fail,  there will be many distractions and interruptions that try to pull you away from what you are meant to be doing right now. Research shows an average office worker is interrupted or distracted every 3 mins, taking 23 minutes to fully re-focus on what they were doing! This short video explains a simple technique to manage the inevitable distractions – the 3Ds. Decide: When a distraction arises, you decide if you want to deal with this distraction now or later. Delegate: If you decide to tackle the distraction, consider if you can delegate some work to a team member. Defer:  Ask yourself – does this extra work need to happen right now or can you defer until a more suitable time?       Additional Resources Rest More…

3 Ways to Deliver a Consistent Project Management Approach

One of the common challenges with deploying project management to an organization, or to a new group or department, is the differing needs and experience of the end users in that group.  As a result, getting people to start managing projects with any kind of consistency can be a real challenge. In these scenarios, practically everyone involved in project management has their own way of doing things. Some of these approaches can be quite structured and mature, while others are very light or completely ad hoc, as many people have never really received project management training. In addition, the variety of projects, from simple to complex and short to long, also complicates things. So it is hard to find suitable best practices at the best of times but this kind of mixed environment makes it even harder. But there are ways to alleviate these pains. Use best-practice project management templates (like BrightWork, for example!) that will help make your roll-out smooth and easy.  Using a range of templates enables a quick start and helps deliver consistency in approach to managing projects.   Here are three things you can do to help make the transition that much smoother:   Start with a range of best practices Starting with a range of…

How to Prepare an Engaging Project Proposal in 8 Steps [Guest Post]

If you’re just getting started as a project manager, or have found the role of project manager thrust upon you, you’ll need to write a project proposal. How can you write a proposal to win approval and resources for the project? Read on for an eight-step formula for success!    1. Starting Out To begin with, you’ll need to start asking questions of yourself and your past experience as a project manager and the job that’s currently at hand. These questions will include: What strategies have been tried before? Have they worked, and why? What project manager experience have I had in the past? How does that affect me now? What’s the most important goal of this project? Who will you need to work on it?   Now’s the time to sit and brainstorm all these things, and really think about what you’re going to need to make this proposal successful. Once you’ve got these questions answered, you can move onto drafting your proposal.   2. Work Out the Goals In your proposal, you’ll need to write a project summary. This will include the goals of your proposal. What are you hoping to achieve in your project? Hopefully, you’ll have…

6 Attributes to Look for in your Project Management Champion!

Have you ever been part of a team that is implementing or using a new tool or methodology and one of your team members is super excited and supportive of the new tool or methodology? This person may even be you! They do not take ‘no’ for an answer, and they spend their time encouraging others and keeping everyone’s eyes on the prize. This person is the “Champion” and there may be more than one. You want to have these people on your team. Similarly, project management champions are those individuals who have been formally or informally appointed to drive Project Management improvement within your team or organization. As I outline in my previous blog post on the 5 Critical Success Factors for Project Management Improvement – “Project management champions go above and beyond their typical role to advocate and ensure the success of project management within the organization. In the case of tackling project management improvement, they are the individuals who use their position and expertise to create a winning environment. The more project management champions you have and the more senior they are, the better!”   6 Attributes of Great Project Management Champions Project management champions can come…

Cultivating a Successful Project Management Culture at Your Company

Like every other company out there, your company works on projects.  Anytime you want to do something new, strategic, or challenging – that’s a project. Projects help bring order to chaos, and balance demands for resources. When delivered successfully, projects lower operating costs, improve efficiencies, and fulfill strategic objectives. However, many organizations fail to realize the benefits of projects for many reasons such as lack of buy-in from senior management and the absence of defined project management standards. In this article, I’ll explore three common reasons why organizations struggle to implement effective project management, and four ways to cultivate a successful project management culture in your organization.   3 Reasons Organizations Fail with Project Management 1. Lack of a Project Management Framework Quite often, individuals tasked with managing a project have no formal training in project management. As a result, the whole idea of “project management” is a new concept. In the absence of a clear approach, individuals will get creative and develop their own ways of working, leading to multiple styles in one organization!     2. No Best Practice Templates or Guidance The lack of standard templates, a collaborative tool, or a knowledge base with lessons learned forces project managers to…

Personal Energy Audit: 5 Emotional Factors

If you want to improve your time management and productivity, start by boosting your energy levels. The healthier your energy levels are, the more you will get from your time. In this post, I’m going to introduce the first part of a personal energy audit, looking at five areas that can impact the emotional side of your energy. The second part of the audit examines physical factors such as diet and sleep.   Emotional Factor No. 1: Career and Work Choices  Are you happy with the career and work choices that you have made? Some people say to me, ‘Eamonn, work is not that important.’ I am afraid that I cannot agree. You work from pretty much nine am to five or six pm each day, and many of us probably longer. You do this from Monday to Friday and possibly weekends. You do this for roughly forty-eight weeks of the year. Some people sadly more.  You are giving the best hours, the best days, the best weeks and the best years of your life to work. You have no better time to give. It is madness not to be happy at work.  If this is the situation you are…

Save Time by Managing Your Energy [Infographic]

Personal leadership is central to project management success, and one area of personal leadership worth investing in is time management. There are lots of ways to improve your time management skills, but at BrightWork, we like to start with energy levels. Consider the following for a moment: what if you have unlimited time, but very low energy? You’re not going to get much done, leading to schedule overruns, increased cost, unhappy stakeholders, and low team morale. Time is a finite resource. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. However, you can ‘top up’ your personal energy levels throughout the day and get more done! In Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook, BrightWork CEO and author, Éamonn McGuinness outlines a two-part personal energy audit to help you identify any factors that drain or boost your energy. Check out the below infographic for a quick overview of these factors.  In the coming weeks, we’ll explore the energy audit in more detail so make sure you check back for updates or subscribe to our blog!     Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.  

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…

Are You Ready for No Interruptions Day?

December 29th  is ‘No Interruptions Day’, the last working day of 2017! Whether you are planning for 2018, reflecting on this year’s projects, or tackling a task list, make the most of this day with our time management articles and videos. These tips will also help you jump in 2018 with more energy and focus.   Personal Energy Management Rest More and Do Less to Improve Your Productivity First things first – if you are considering putting in extra hours to end 2017, think twice.  Longer working hours reduce outputs and lead to poor decisions, mistakes, less creativity, and various health problems. A review of the working habits of famously productive people reveals they only spent a few hours each day working with significantly more time devoted to leisure time and family. Whilst we tend to associate good ideas with hours of work, history offers a different lesson. Read more >>   Save Time – Manage Your Energy! [Infographic] When it comes to successful project management, you need to manage your time efficiently. Your energy levels will directly affect how and where you spend your time. Consider the following for a moment: what if you have a huge amount of time, but very low energy? It’s…

2017 Highlights: Top 3 Project Management Webinars

The BrightWork webinar team were busy this year, running over 40 webinars covering a wide range of project management and SharePoint topics! Below are our top three webinars of 2017.  Pull up a chair, settle in, and get ready for project management success in 2018.   Improve Project Performance with Metrics and KPIs in SharePoint Easy access to data is key to project performance, helping to improve visibility, collaboration, and decision-making. Watch to learn more about: Real-time portfolio dashboards for immediate visibility Metric Tiles to keep everyone up-to-date Using Scorecards to review historical trends.   Task Tracking in SharePoint Struggling to stay on top of project tasks and non-project work? Using SharePoint to track your team’s tasks is key to tackling this challenge. Learn more about: Tracking project tasks using SharePoint lists Using the Work Tracker Template to track non-project activities Creating roll-up reports for a complete overview of current work.   Boost Team Performance with Your One-Page Project Plan in SharePoint Without a clear plan, common goals, and the right tool support, your project team will struggle to deliver as needed. This webinar explains how to: Develop a one-page project plan Create a team-focused project site using SharePoint Use automated…

6 Tips for Choosing Effective Project Team Members

A project is only as successful as the people behind it. While leaders often choose people for project teams simply based on their bandwidth or specialized knowledge, this is not necessarily the best way to go about it. There’s a number of specific skills leaders must look for, indicating who would serve as a great asset and who wouldn’t add much value to the team. Even those employees with the strongest skills typically require training to shine as a project team member. Simply assuming people already have all the necessary skills, or that they’ll quickly observe others and catch on, is not an effective approach. Companies who want the best project outcomes must be willing to invest in their people first. 6 Qualities of a Valuable Project Team Member Companies should strive to have project team members embody each of the following six characteristics: 1. Excellent Communicator Project team members work with individuals in all levels of the organization, coming from a variety of different backgrounds. As a result, these project management professionals must have the ability to effectively communicate with a number of different audiences, relying on information in a manner they can relate to. Poor communication can make or…

2017 Highlights: Top 10 Project Management Articles

As we get ready to welcome 2018, the BrightWork content team and I want to thank all of our blog readers for your continued support and engagement. We’ve really enjoyed creating content on a wide range of project management topics in the past 12 months, which we hope helped you reach your goals. If you missed anything – not to worry! Below is a list of our top 10 articles from 2017. The posts cover a range of project management and leadership topics such as teamwork, leadership, communication, and project reporting. We are very excited about 2018 so make sure you subscribe to the blog for more insightful project management content, tips, and insights. Thanks for reading!   4 Quick Steps To Set Up SharePoint For Project Management If you are not using SharePoint templates 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!   6 Tips for Choosing Effective Project Team Members A project is only as successful as the people behind it. While…

2017 – What a Year It Has Been for the BrightWork Community!

As 2017 draws to a close and we celebrate all that has been, I wanted to take time to reflect on some of the endeavors of the past year. This year has been a busy one for the BrightWork community. Here are a few of the highlights.   1. Introducing “BrightWork Success” In January 2017, we launched BrightWork Success, an area of expertise designed specifically to help our customers accomplish more with BrightWork. With one login, customers can now easily access a range of BrightWork and Project Management training, resources, and support materials. If you are a customer, all you need to do to is request access here. 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!       2. Forging New Partnerships with Nintex and TimeControl 2017 saw us welcome many new partners and some new software integrations. Two such partnerships were Nintex for workflow automation and TimeControl for time management. The Nintex Partnership By combining BrightWork with the point-and-click automation of Nintex, you will get faster and better Project Portfolio Management to make successful project decisions quicker.…

How to Track Resources in SharePoint with Configurable Reports

SharePoint can be configured quite easily to provide a collaborative site to track and manage all project-related work. Tracking work and responsibilities, knowing who is doing what, and seeing how work is progressing is simple with your project site in SharePoint. Collaborative project sites in SharePoint are a great way to track the work on a single project.  But, I’m sure you have more than one project underway at any given time!  With BrightWork, you can transform your SharePoint environment into a portfolio management tool, rolling up crucial data across all your projects into a set of unified dashboard reports. Here are a few ways you can use BrightWork and SharePoint to track work and resources in your project portfolio easily and efficiently. Track work at a glance Senior executives like to get a snapshot of the projects underway.  It’s important to get the high-level overview to see what’s on track, what isn’t on track, and any issues that may be popping up. Here we see a roll-up dashboard report that shows all the work in the portfolio, this one showing the top 5 Open Tasks and top 5 Open Issues under each project in the portfolio.  You can easily see what work is in…

5 Collaboration Trends You Will See in Project Management During 2018

In the next year, we’re going to see fundamental shifts in collaboration. As networks and ecosystems replace organizational hierarchies, the traditional question “who do you work for?” has been replaced by “who do you work with?” Moreover, the continuous diffusion of innovative technologies throughout the working landscape has accelerated and governed this shift. The collaborative nature of project management also means that this has the utmost pertinence to our project teams. In the coming year, here are the 5 collaboration trends to be prepared for.    1. The power of teams will become even more prevalent When asked in an interview for Entrepreneur Dom Price, the head of R&D at Atlassian,  said, “the future of productivity is all about unleashing the potential of your teams.” According to him, “90 percent of organizations claim to be tackling issues so complex they need teams to solve them.” This doesn’t bode well for organizations in which collaboration has not become a priority. Price further stated that, “Diversity, distribution, time zones, cultural differences and hierarchical reporting lines all make teamwork hard. We all need to unlearn some old ways of working, and embrace diversity, inclusion and better collaboration to drive team productivity in this new…

How to Improve Project Visibility

Project visibility is of the utmost importance for a number of reasons. It’s vital you understand the term and know what it means for your organization. When you finish reading this post,  I hope you will know how to improve project visibility in your organization and as a result, get on the ever-elusive fast-track to project success!   Self-Assessment Before we start, ask yourself three very simple and straightforward questions: How visible are the projects across your organization? Can you see exactly what you need to manage individual projects in your organization? Do you have an accurate picture of how many projects are in-flight, the resources they are consuming, the benefits they are intending to deliver, and the progress that is being made?   If you answered no to one or more of these questions, keep reading! What is Project Visibility?   Project visibility is a common project management term but what does it actually mean?  After some online research and a chat with one of our resident project managers, I’ve formulated the following definitions:   ‘Project visibility is what is truly happening to the entire or any part of the project at any point in time under any circumstance in any level of detail.’ ‘Project Visibility simply…

The Ethics of Project Management, Social Responsibility, and Authentic Leadership

Peter Drucker (2001) famously stated that “management is about doing things right; leadership is about doing the right things.” The question needs to be asked from a Project Management perspective – “Am I an ethical Project Manager?” According to the Centre for Ethical Leadership (2015), “ethical leadership is knowing your core values and having the courage to live them in all parts of your life in service of the common good.” The recent crisis in the financial markets has turned a spotlight on the ethical aspects of all organizations, including its Project Management Office (PMO). As with all Project Management concepts, there are many frameworks available that describe ethical leadership and its impact on an organization. Dr. Jonathan Westrup (2015) presented a simple model that illustrates how an organization’s ethics determines their values and ultimately impacts their governance (Figure below).   Ethics Ethics can be simply defined as a set of beliefs about right and wrong. Companies face daily dilemmas that require choosing between competing sets of values and priorities to satisfy multiple stakeholders. Ethical issues involve how to disperse benefits and harm among stakeholders. An example of an ethical decision for a Project Manager would be should I “gold-plate”…

10 Tips for Successful Teamwork

Involved in so many project teams you find it hard to cope? Ever feel out of the loop? Want to be part of a more effective team? These top tips are a great way to start building a successful team.   1. Communicate openly, honestly and respectfully There is nothing worse than being left in the lurch when it comes to team communication (or lack thereof). Whether it’s the next big strategic move or deciding on where you’re going for lunch, always communicate openly, honestly, and respectfully with other members of your team and they’ll do likewise. Check out this short video to see how you can help your team members communicate efficiently and stay connected to their work, and their colleagues using SharePoint!   2. Choose an effective leader There are a number of qualities needed in a leadership position, but effective leadership tops the list. Ensure your team leader is realistic, knowledgeable, and responsive then you’re on to a winner.   3. Mind your manners! There is nothing worse than a rude team member. Encourage a polite and understanding team environment and you’ll be riding the success express all the way home! Establish acceptable standards of behavior and deal with conflict as quickly as…

3 Ways to Help Team Members Contribute to Project Success

A common problem for project team members is they sometimes feel disconnected from the project and their peers. Poor collaboration coupled with lots of competing responsibilities often makes team members feel they are wasting their time working too hard for poor results and that little is changing to improve their situation. Team members want to contribute to project success, so you need to make it as easy as possible for them to do just that! Here we look at three simple ways to enable project team members.   Team-focused Project Site Collaborative sites enable real-time collaboration and communication for the entire project team. By using a project site, the project manager and team members can easily share and find project information in a centralized location. The site will not only guide the team through the project management process, but show clear and coordinated priorities, showing the work that is coming up, when it is due, and who is responsible.     Using a task planner, assign tasks with specific durations, start and end dates, and any predecessors. This will ensure each team member is clear about upcoming tasks and how their work impacts on other areas of the project.    Team Member Dashboards It is highly unlikely that your project team members…

Working Effectively with Remote Teams Using SharePoint

One of the bigger shifts that have occurred in the modern workplace is the ability for team members to work remotely. With the internet, cloud storage, email, chat and video conferencing, and project management software, it has become incredibly easy for team members to “log on” and get work done from anywhere in the world. Remote working can be beneficial for employers and employees alike. Employers can reduce some overhead, minimize in-office distractions, and get access to a wider pool of talent.  For employees, they can reduce the cost of commuting to and from the office, freeing up time to pursue other passions.  Remote workers often report higher productivity and a better work-life balance. However, remote working is not without its challenges. The lack of in-person communication can lead to problems when it comes to team cohesion, shared vision, knowledge sharing, and general team engagement. If these issues persist for too long in remote teams, it creates barriers to open communication and collaboration, resulting in less-than-successful projects. So if you find yourself managing a remote team, how can you reduce these risks and help the team move work forward?  Here are three ways you can use SharePoint to improve collaboration…

This Thanksgiving, Take Time for Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful!  During good times and in tough times, I find gratitude is one of the most powerful tools we have to make a change in our family, our workplace, and the world. It all starts at home.  When my children were young, as we sat down for dinner, we started a tradition of saying one thing we were grateful for each day.  Instead of complaining about what a teacher might have done or that the bully took my lunch money, we started our time together appreciating what was good in our day.  This would set the tone for the rest of the meal. This practice spread to my workday.  Regardless of how stressful or busy the day, my goal is to find something that was positive.  You can set the tone for your workday with a little gratitude. I am grateful for my family. I am loved and supported by my husband, my children and the rest of my extended family. I am grateful for my team. I am blessed to work with incredibly intelligent and creative professionals who know how to have fun. I am grateful for our customers. Project Management can be challenging.…

4 Practical Ways to Demonstrate Project Leadership Skills

In a recent post, I mentioned anyone can become a leader – it just takes practice, intent, and commitment. This applies to both project managers and team members; after all, leadership is a choice. We follow great leaders who motivate us to achieve more, not because of title or authority. Regardless of your position, you can practice leadership skills at any stage of a project. I’ve put together four essential skills and extra reading to help you get started on your leadership journey.   4 Essential Project Leadership Skills 1. Communication From emails to IMs, meetings, presentations, impromptu chats, stakeholder engagement, and vendor management – communication underlies all project activity. There are numerous ways to improve your communication skills, but a good place to start is with active listening. In The Leadership Handbook: 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs, John C. Maxwell wisely notes the best leaders are listeners. Listening leads to understanding and new insights, which improves your relationships with the team and colleagues. Another facet of effective communication is selecting the right format. When preparing a project communication plan, it’s easy to get tied up choosing the best tools and channels so remember to get back to basics.…

Project Management on SharePoint: Build vs. Buy

A common conversation that we frequently have with executives and management at companies of all sizes and industries involves the decision to “in-house” develop project management systems or buy out-of-the-box. As a matter of fact, I heard one today where a colleague was on the phone with an IT Director discussing where they have been, where they are and ultimately where they want and need to be in terms of managing their projects. He has been at the company for ten years and from the beginning recognized that improving project visibility and collaboration in a centralized system would improve their success. Their IT staff is relatively small, so assigning internal resources to develop a system outside of the core business was not feasible, but they did hire a consulting company a few years ago to develop and maintain their current project management system. Fast forward to today. The cost to maintain has been overwhelming; they have frequent “blackouts” due to updates and “it really was not as intuitive as we had envisioned.” He mentioned that he was planning a blog post on this very subject and before I could complete the title he interrupted “BUY!” The timeliness of this conversation…

Project Management on SharePoint: Better and Faster with BrightWork and Nintex

With BrightWork powering your project portfolio management on SharePoint, combined with the point-and-click automation of Nintex, you will get faster and better Project Portfolio Management, so you can make decisions faster and move projects forward to success sooner.   Automated Status Reporting and Email Alerts BrightWork project management templates on SharePoint provide all the tools required for project managers to track both project progress and performance and keep stakeholders informed. One way of tracking project progress is by it’s phase. As project tasks are completed by team members, so are their relative phases. Using Nintex Workflows, you can automatically alert stakeholders via email that a phase is complete and indicate what the next actions are at this stage of the project.   Automated Exception Reporting BrightWork templates for portfolio management give senior executives high-level visibility into the health of multiple projects across the organization. Nintex Workflows make it easy to create new activities (e.g. issues or risks) in your projects, based on certain conditions. A typical example is that an issue is automatically logged if a critical milestone misses its deadline, which can then be tracked and assigned on the portfolio dashboards in BrightWork.   Flexible Project Request Management BrightWork…

Should You Track and Report on Project Risks?

Tracking and reporting on risk is an essential project management activity, which you ignore at your peril! Tracking risks influences how you implement or change upcoming tasks. Check out this video, taken from our free six-part risk management training series, for more details. Step 4: Track and Report   Goals The goal from this step is threefold: To monitor the status of your risk action plans, in other words, the progress towards the completion of contingency and mitigation plans. To monitor any project metrics associated with a risk that might trigger a contingency plan. To provide notification to the project team that a trigger, or triggers, have been exceeded so that a contingency plan can be initiated if needed.   Inputs There are two main inputs that are going to help you achieve these three goals:  Your risk action forms, which contain the specific mitigation and contingency plans you created, and which also specify the project metrics and trigger values to be monitored. The relevant project status reports used to track progress within the standard project management structure.   You may need to call on other sources of information depending on the specific project metrics being tracked, for example, a…

4 Steps to Effectively Track and Re-Plan Your Project

As any project manager knows, even the best project plan won’t last very long once the work gets started.  As you work through a project, it’s inevitable that things will go wrong, fall behind … surprises will crop up.  That’s why it’s so important to regularly check in and see how things are going, so you can adjust the plan to match the reality of what is actually happening.  Here are four key steps to easily find out the status of the project, see what’s going awry, and re-plan as necessary so as to minimize the impact on the project goals.  Find and Manage Exceptions First, manage the “exceptions.” Exceptions on a project can take a few forms, typically risks, issues or change requests. Risks are any factors on the project that have the possibility of becoming an issue.  You would have identified some risks in the project planning phase.  Some of them may have been dealt with already, or there might be new risks that have appeared.  If there are any open risks, you will need decide the best course of action to mitigate these risks or in some cases create a contingency plan.  Issues are risks whose time…