[Inforgraphic] 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…

13 Tips to Deliver Exceptional Presentations

As a teenager, I was completely petrified of public speaking, particularly in class. If a teacher asked me a question or picked me to read aloud from a textbook, I would just freeze and claim a sore throat! At one point, I asked teachers to skip me; it was always a relief when they remembered. Somewhere along the way, I conquered this fear. I have delivered academic conference papers, tutored in universities, held workshops with senior management, participated in several proposal pitches, and tend to be quite vocal in team meetings! Although the nerves never left, I enjoy public speaking in various forms. Whether you are proposing a project, introducing a new process, or sharing an update with your team, presentations are an essential, in-person communication tool for project managers. In this article, I’m going to share 13 tips to help you deliver exceptional presentations to support your projects. The tips cover two areas: preparing for and delivering your presentation. In a second article, I will take explore some tricks for getting the most from PowerPoint.   Preparing Your Presentation Know your purpose and end objective Before putting pen to paper, think about the purpose of your presentation and what…

BrightWork Announce Integration with HMS Software

BrightWork have teamed with the publishers of TimeControl to integrate timesheets into their project and portfolio solution for SharePoint (Boston, MA – June 2, 2017) BrightWork are delighted to announce the availability of a new integration with TimeControl, the leading multi-purpose timesheet system from HMS Software. The integration links the TimeControl enterprise timesheet product to BrightWork, allowing users to report on timesheets right from their collaborative project management system in SharePoint.  The alliance between BrightWork and HMS was announced several weeks ago and the new integrated link between their products is now available. “Integrating with best of breed systems such as TimeControl is one of the benefits of the SharePoint-based architecture of BrightWork,” says Éamonn McGuinness, CEO of BrightWork. “TimeControl extends the already extensive functionality of BrightWork to make task updating a natural part of ending one’s day or week.  We already have some clients in common using both TimeControl and BrightWork and we are very much looking forward to working with HMS on other clients.” The combination of the BrightWork project management solution for SharePoint with TimeControl will deliver comprehensive project planning and tracking with task-by-task progressed timesheets.  Not only will BrightWork now be able to have timesheets with…

5 Steps to Create Habits that Last

Think about your day so far. What activities have you completed since you woke up? I imagine this list will include things like brushing your teeth, grabbing a coffee, listening to your favorite radio station on the way to work, checking emails, and listening to your voicemail. Each of these activities is a habit, a regular practice or behavior. 40-45% of our daily activities are actually habits, meaning our life is the culmination of our habits. Developing new, effective habits is key to collaborative project management success.  However, habits are also notoriously hard to form and give up! In this article, I will explore five ways to identify and create new habits that last.   Habits and Successful Collaborative Project Management The importance of personal and professional habits to project management is discussed in a few different contexts in Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook. To summarize, habits are key to: Leadership: Effective leaders actively cultivate a range of positive habits to help guide and nurture their team. Habits help leaders to act consistently, garnering trust and respect from colleagues. REP: Quite often, people struggle to make long-lasting, meaningful change. At BrightWork, we have crafted the “REP” approach to personal change…

Which Collaboration Option is Best in Office 365?

Office 365 has some of the best team collaboration options on the market today. But as you start to use these tools more and more (you can connect Office 365 and BrightWork by the way!), it can be hard to wrap your head around the various collaborative options available.  You could use Teams, Planner, SharePoint, or other some combination of apps and tools! So which collaboration tool should you be using?  How do you pick? I don’t think you should or really even need to pick one winner.  What you have to keep in mind is that with these collaborative tools, each one has slightly different use cases.  In this blog, I’m going to cover three that we utilize here at BrightWork, and how you can use them to suit our different collaboration needs. FREE DOWNLOAD: PROJECT MANAGEMENT TEMPLATES FOR SHAREPOINT AND OFFICE 365 Teams for a chat and conversations Teams is a Slack-like app within Office 365 that provides a chat-based workspace for teams to talk and collaborate.  At its heart, Teams is a messaging app.  You create different “Teams”, or channels, for a department, or a team, or even a sub-set of people working on a particular project.  By default, threads are visible to the entire team…

Top 5 Effective Communication Skills for Project Managers [Infographic]

The word communication has been evolved from the Latin word “communis” which means common, general or public and “communicare” meaning “make something common”. When we communicate, we are trying to establish “commonness” with an individual or a group. We have a requirement to collaborate and share information, an idea or thoughts among the team involved in a project. Communication is an essential process in our day-to-day life, and the entire world revolves around it – and now, effective communication skills are an essential element in the skill set of a project manager. According to the PMI (Project Management Institute), it’s been estimated that project managers spend 90% of their time on communication related activities! The success of a project largely depends on how effective the communication process is. This process beings during the first stage of your project (project initiation) and continues right though each stage into the final stage as you close out your project Communication is not like time, it is not a finite resource – however, we need to use this resource effectively and efficiently. You can never assume that the receiver of information will interpret the message the same way as the sender intended it. Because of…

How to Create a Project Communication Plan

Effective communication is the essence of project management, making a communication plan vital. According to the Project Management Institute, high-performance organizations who finished 80% of projects were twice as likely to have communication plans in place than their low-performing counterparts. If you don’t have a plan or want to update your current plan, read on!   Why do I Need a Communications Plan for my Project? Communication is a “process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior”. Sounds easy? Unfortunately, effective communication is quite rare! Lack of time, personal styles, daily distractions, and assumptions can easily disrupt communication. As pointed out by playwright George Bernard Shaw, ‘’The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.’’ A project communication plan is a blueprint for communication processes during your project. The plan should help provide the right information to the right person at the right time in a format that works for them. Having a plan will: Make it easier to secure stakeholder buy-in and support Set expectations with stakeholders, the project team, and external vendors Improve decision making Keep the team up-to-date with current and upcoming tasks Define roles…

Rest More and Do Less to Improve Your Productivity

I have a confession to make: I love being busy. Evidence includes a long to-do list; an even longer list of ideas; a (very) well-walked dog and active weekends running ‘errands’. I’m already stockpiling books for my next vacation!  Like most people, I like feeling engaged, busy, occupied. One task done, let’s start the next one quick! Over time, I came to associate this constant hive of activity with professionalism, effective time management, and accomplishment. I’m not alone in this view; for many, burning the candle at both ends is the hallmark of success. A quick online search reveals a growing obsession with tips and hacks to boost our productivity. And yes, I’ve tried many of these ideas. Two ideas have recently made me reconsider this stance. Firstly, the idea that leisure time was once a marker of success, not constant busyness. Secondly, being busy leaves little room for downtime, which is essential to creativity. We need time to think and reflect. This got me thinking about how I was spending my spare time and the effect on both my personal and professional life. Again, I wasn’t alone. Rest, sleep, leisure time, doing less to get more done – these…

How to use Communication Styles to Drive Project Success

Understanding communication styles is pivotal to executing a successful project. As we have covered on the BrightWork blog before, ineffective communication is the primary cause of project failure 33% of the time and has a negative impact on project success more than 50% of the time according to research conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The most useful skill to develop and use to combat this bane of project success is the ability to understand and adapt to different communication styles, while also appreciating the impact of your own style on a group dynamic. This article will delve into some established schools of thought around communication styles and help you apply them in the context of your project teams. I will begin with the four traditional styles of communication before looking at some more ‘new school’ approaches to communication. As Mark Murphy explained in Forbes, no one communication style is inherently better than another. Picking the wrong style for a particular audience, whether it’s one person or a thousand, shuts down listening and can spell trouble. Learning to build flexibility around your preferred style allows others to more successfully hear the important things you need to communicate. Below are…

4 Simple Steps to Successfully Plot a RACI Matrix

Understanding who is responsible for certain tasks and duties is essential for the success of any project. If these aren’t clearly defined, would anything ever be completed? One relatively straightforward model that can be used to clearly identify roles and responsibilities is the RACI Matrix. RACI is an acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. For each task, an individual or group is assigned one or more of the four types of association. In this post, I outline the 4 associations, steps to create your own RACI Matrix, and reasons you might adjust your RACI matrix. I also provide a brief overview of some variations of the RACI matrix. RACI – The 4 Types of Association Responsible The group, role or individual who is assigned this association is in charge of performing the work. They complete this task. Depending on the size and scale of the project, there may be multiple parties “Responsible” for the task and in many cases, this group, role or individual is also “Accountable” for the task. Oftentimes, it is assumed that the Project Manager is “Responsible” for all tasks when in actual fact they should delegate if possible so that other members of the team…

9 Tips for Facilitating Better Project Meetings

As I sat down to put write this blog post, my mind ran to the poster on the right that one my colleagues shared with me a few years ago. I know it’s a bit facetious, but it does make you think about the purpose and function of meetings in our work day. I’m sure we’ve all been there many times.  We’ve agonized through a meeting we had no business attending.  Or the meeting that had no set agenda to drive the conversation and direct decisions. Or the meeting that attendees were not prepared for, which is both frustrating and counter-productive. However, in the right context with the right agenda and attendees, meetings are a very effective way to move work forward.  But to get the most benefit from a project meeting, they must be facilitated efficiently. 9 ways to facilitate better project meetings Only invite necessary attendees Start by keeping the list of attendees as small as possible and limited to those who absolutely need to be there.  There must be a better way to communicate with your teams if every update comes from an all-hands meeting.  Bigger groups are certainly useful for a brainstorm-type session where you need the creative juices to flow openly.  But generally speaking,…

Supercharge Your Project Reports with BrightWork

Everyone loves a project report – except the project manager! Trying to prepare different types of reports for stakeholders and the team from various sources is often a very manual and time consuming process. It’s especially troublesome when a report is urgently needed for a meeting; if your information sources are not up-to-date, you’re in for a long day!  Reports are a vital project tool. Having the right reporting tools in place allows you to track progress, manage risks, maintain cost control, and improve overall visibility.  Reports also enable team members and stakeholders to contribute effectively to the project.   Reporting Tools The best way to tackle project reports is with a collaborative project tool such as BrightWork, which quickly pulls together relevant information from different sources into the required format. Better yet, you can also set up automated reporting to send reports to the right person as needed – daily, weekly, or monthly. Just think about how much more time you could have to work on your projects!   Types of Reports BrightWork comes with a range of reporting options including project and portfolio reports, ‘My Work’ reports for individual team members, and real-time high-level portfolio dashboards, which give…

4 Ways to Boost Team Performance

Picture this: the project is nearing completion, your stakeholders love your outputs, and the team is laser-focused on the deadlines. Suddenly, your star player starts to underperform. They stop contributing at meetings, are frequently late, and the quality of their work declines, forcing other team members to pick up the slack. The project is finished on time, but you are frustrated and unsure of what to do next. Should you confront the underperforming team member, report their behavior to HR, or ignore the situation, hoping it was a temporary glitch? Effective project managers need to maintain team dynamics by focusing on what is best for individual team members and the group. Addressing poor performance supports individual growth whilst also establishing acceptable behavior for the rest of the team. Read on to learn more about performance management, and four ways to boost performance using goals, check-ins, rewards, and feedback.   Managing Team Performance  Performance management is a ‘process by which managers and employees work together to plan, monitor and review an employee’s work objectives and overall contribution to the organization’. The purpose of performance management is the continuous assessment of progress against agreed goals and metrics, with feedback and support provided…

3 Ways BrightWork Makes Task Management Easier in SharePoint

Most people on your team are working on more than one project at once.  With so many competing priorities, it can be overwhelming to stay on top of what needs to be done. Here’s a common scenario we hear from customers: It’s difficult to keep track of their assigned work and when it is due, especially across competing projects Team members struggle to contribute to projects and providing status updates is too time-consuming There is no objective way to highlight when they have an issue or have too much on their plate Project deliverables are not managed in a central library and version control is lost. Task Management Made Easy with BrightWork and SharePoint SharePoint is the perfect platform for team collaboration, with some robust task management capabilities.  BrightWork is designed to extend those capabilities to give team members a simple work management system in SharePoint. With BrightWork, all team members can: find their responsibilities easily carry out the some of the project work quickly report on progress right from the project site in SharePoint.   Find your work Project management templates from BrightWork give the team a virtual workspace to connect and collaborate on the project.  At any time, team members…

Early Signs of Project Failure [Guest Post]

Managing a project is not only about meeting deadlines, but also fostering teamwork, and managing various stakeholders and the multiple communication channels that come with each task. Over half of all projects are generally thought to fail, and according to some estimates, even up to 70 or 80 percent. This is why it’s crucial to recognize early signs of project failure—here are some situations of which you may want to be cognizant.   White Space Risk As Harvard Business Review pointed out, project plans, timelines, and budgets are made to make sure designated activities are carried out properly. However, there is also the “white space risk,” meaning some required activities won’t be identified in advance, and “integration risk,” referring to the risk of the disparate activities not coming together at the end. Harvard’s solution is rapid-result initiatives, and they give an excellent example regarding a sales improvement project.   Improving Workflow Let’s say a goal is to double the sales revenue over a two year period by implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) system for a company’s sales force. One team would research and install software packages, another team would analyze customer interaction such as e-mailing, phone calls, and meetings,…

How to Manage Your Time and Overcome the Myth of Multitasking

I don’t need to tell you yet again how valuable your time is. ‘Time is precious’, ‘time is money’― you have heard a thousand variations already. We get it, time is important…so what do I do about it? This article gives you just one perspective on how to manage your time and overcome the myth of multitasking.   “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” ― Charles Darwin, The Life & Letters of Charles Darwin   Make that a thousand and one variations you have heard already! Even Darwin is giving us grief for wasting time now. In reality, who doesn’t waste ‘one hour of time’ every so often? But of course, he has a point, those hours add up and you may find them turning into days or even weeks. That is where it is up to you to draw the line. So now you have decided to do just that, no more wasted time! But what does this mean?  How do you do it?   “Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” ― Peter F. Drucker   While not an exact science, the discipline of time management can…

A Team Built for Collaboration [Guest Post]

Over 25 years ago, I was approached by a loyal client who wanted my team to build a complex application whose goal was an ideal end state (or maybe a dream state to be more accurate) for their business model but how to achieve it (its solution)  was mostly undefined. The continued success of their business was threatened by technology and new competition and depended on the success of this very high risk project. I told my client that we would do the project if he would appoint one of his senior managers to our team. They should understand the business model requirements and be able to represent and make decisions for their business. I would want that manager to join our team as a full time member. I argued that I could not assure success unless the client provided that level of commitment.   The manager was appointed and the project was a success. That was an awesome learning experience for our team and began what would soon evolve into our Co-Manager Model. I have never taken a client project engagement since then without using this Model. Over the years the Model has matured and become an essential tool…

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 WT,…