3 Ways to Help Team Members Contribute to Project Success using SharePoint

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.   3 Ways to Help Team Members Contribute using SharePoint 1. 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.    2.…

7 Factors to Include in Your Project Health Check

Project teams deal with the possibility of failure every day. There are numerous reasons why projects fail, many of which can be avoided with a project health check. A project health check enables the team to take a step back from the daily execution of tasks to evaluate the actual status of the project in an objective way. Benefits of conducting a project health check include: Identifying issues before they occur, which can save significant time and money Overcoming current challenges and risks Confirming that the rationale for the project is still relevant and clearly understood by the team Ensuring adherence to established practices and processes to safeguard the quality of the final deliverables.   The tools and methods used to complete the project health check will depend on the scale of the project and local guidance. The output is typically a comprehensive report which documents problems and risks, and a set of recommended actions. In some instances, organizations opt to use external auditors to obtain a fully impartial review of the project. The project health check may be conducted at agreed intervals or as a response to unforeseen issues. Here are seven recommended factors to include in your next project…

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…

How to Tackle Poor Project Communication

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

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…

Choosing a Project Management Methodology

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

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…

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.…

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.…

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…

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…

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…

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.…

How to Use a Project Team Charter to Boost Performance

I’m sure many of you are familiar with a project charter, a document defining the ‘raison d’etre’ of the project. The project charter outlines the proposed scope of work, requirements, timeline, resources, the definition of done, and project success factors. It’s a must-have document for any project and is a resource you will likely consult several times over the project. Have you ever considered using a similar document to guide and inform your project team? Let’s take at why you should develop a project team charter and what to include.   Benefits of a Project Team Charter In their study of high-performance teams, Dr. Ruth Wageman and Dr. Richard Hackman identified three conditions essential to team dynamics: real team, compelling direction, and the right team. Real team refers to a sense of comradery and stability within the team. A compelling direction helps team members understand how their work contributes to organizational strategy, providing focus and momentum. Goals should be challenging with clear measures of success. Team effectiveness depends on getting the right people on the team. Individuals must possess relevant skills and experiences, and the ability to work on a team. It’s also important to combine different perspectives to avoid…

How to Build Your Personal Leadership Brand in 5 Steps

Think about your most recent purchase. Did you choose a particular brand over another? Did you make this choice based on your previous experience with that brand in terms of cost, quality, consistency, ease of use? Maybe the brand fits with your lifestyle or values? Brand acts as a signal to consumers, and in turn, our brand choices reveal part of ourselves to those around us. Your personal leadership brand is no different. Developing and sharing your leadership brand lets your team and colleagues know who you are, what you stand for, and how you work. Read on to learn how to create your own personal leadership brand for project and career success.   What is Leadership? Before you can establish your own leadership brand, you need to figure out what leadership really is and what is means to you. Numerous definitions and styles exist, but in the context of collaborative project management, leadership is a way to excite people to outstanding performance.  A project leader uses influence – not seniority, titles, or strong personal qualities – to drive the efforts of their team towards a goal. Leadership is critical to organizational and project success. In their book, How to Be…

IPM Day 2017: People, Passion, and Purpose in a Digital Age

We are delighted to announce that BrightWork will be exhibiting as a Gold sponsor at this year’s International Project Management Day! IPM Day is a live online virtual conference that you can attend via your desktop, laptop, and/or mobile device, on November 2, 2017. Gain insights from Project Management experts, practitioners, and influencers around the globe from the comfort of your own desk. The conference, which has been running for 14 years, is tailored to project management and agile professionals, as well as other business leaders who utilize project management methods to achieve business success. With speakers such as Shobhana Gupta, Maxine Hill, Harold Kerzner, and Jeff Sutherland, IPM Day 2017 is expected to attract 50,000 attendees.  Further details on the agenda are available here. IPM Day 2017 provides attendees with up to 26 PDUs, aligned with PMI®’s Talent Triangle,  and two bonus courses. The price is USD $55 per person and includes 60-days access to the conference. Register here! Why attend? Exceptional content and speakers Networking and engagement Bonus access to two on-demand courses Valuable professional development On-demand conference access Great takeaways.   As always, we will have a range of ebooks, guides, on-demand webinars, and Free Project Management Templates for SharePoint in our booth. Be sure to stop by our booth, fill…

7 Habits of Effective Project Teams

A key premise of our three-step framework for collaborative project management is team members are engaged in their work and are willing to contribute to the project in a meaningful way. Through such successful collaboration, team members should also be ready to lead themselves and others as work progresses, and seek continuous improvement. Whilst achieving this model takes some time, great teams are characterized by some common habits. Below are seven to look for when building your next project team.   7 Habits of Effective Project Teams 1. Goals   Well-defined goals that are measurable, challenging, clearly communicated to the team, and agreed by each member are paramount to success. To reach group consensus on the goal, host a workshop to discuss objectives, measures of success, and individual responsibilities. Use a collaborative project management site and team meetings to continually reinforce the importance of the goal and how the team is progressing towards your destination. In addition to setting a goal, commitment to your objective is also critical. This is a team, not a committee with individual priorities and agendas. You need everyone to collaborate on time to make progress. Help team members to identify both their own goals for…

Do You Know How to Build a Stellar Project Team?

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

A Quick Guide to Project Teams: Types and Benefits

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

How to Use Project Portfolio Metrics to Deliver Business Value

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

Is Resilience the Secret to Being Happy at Work?

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

9 Steps for Implementing Successful Project Portfolio Management

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

Why do You Need to Worry About Imposter Syndrome?

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

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. In fact, sponsorship is the first of our five critical success factors for project management improvement! 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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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 and…

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 

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…

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…

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 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 management. REP…

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…

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…

How to Improve Your Project Leadership with Coaching and Mentoring

Taking an active approach to the development of your leadership style is critical to collaborative project management. You need to cultivate a wide range of practices to use in different circumstances to nurture and guide the team in the right direction. Depending on the situation, you may opt to coach or mentor an individual to achieve the desired result. In this article, I will explore the differences between coaching and mentoring, and outlines best practice tips for these techniques. Before we begin, it’s important to understand when to use coaching and mentoring with your team.   Situational Leadership: Show, Coach, and Mentor As discussed in Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook, you can either show, coach, or mentor an individual towards an agreed outcome. In order to determine which path is best, you need to decide what is really happening. Here are four possible spectrums to consider. Capability Spectrum: Sometimes, team members are capable, competent, and able to do the job at hand. Other times, they are not capable or trained for the tasks ahead. Willingness Spectrum: There will be days when you will find team members energetic, enthusiastic and very willing. These are often followed by lazy, lethargic, and unproductive days. Time Pressure…

6 Ways to Improve Project Communication [Infographic]

Communication can make or break your project. Research conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) found that ineffective communication was the main contributor to project failure one-third of the time, and had a negative impact on project success more than half the time. Check out our infographic for six handy tips to improve project communication.     If you want more tips and ideas to improve project communication within your team or organization, check out some of our most popular blog posts: How to Tackle Poor Project Communication: Understanding the roots of poor communication and the impact of this risk is critical to developing a communication plan that works. 6 Ways to Improve Team Motivation: Communication plays a vital role in motivating and engaging project teams. Managing Distributed Project Teams [Infographic]: Global Workplace Analytics estimates that around 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) work from home at least half the time. This means that many project managers now oversee distributed teams. However, communication and collaboration can become even more challenging when dealing with distributed teams. Dealing with Conflict in Project Teams: According to the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), managing conflict is one of the biggest challenges a project manager…

6 Ideas to Improve Your Project Resource Management

Resource Management is all about getting the right people, equipment, and materials in the right place at the right time. This is a top challenge for project managers everywhere! Lack of proper resource planning can lead to resource shortages during project execution, which can quickly derail or halt a project. The following resources will help you to identify, allocate, track, and optimize resources on your project.   What is Resource Management? 6 Definitions: Make sure you understand these six core principles of resource management – Resource Levelling, Critical Chain Planning, Resource Capacity Planning, Resource Tracking, Resource Communications, and Resource Commitments – before tackling your next project.   Do You Know This Simple Approach To Resource Management?: In  this blog article, PMO expert Ken Martin outlines a top-down and bottom-up approach to resource management. The use of both approaches together helps to refine sizing criteria for projects so an organization can determine resource allocations.   A Quick Resource Management Guide [SlideShare] explores a four-step resource management process: Plan, Acquire, Notify, and Retain.   How to Track Resources in SharePoint with BrightWork: Did you know you can use SharePoint as a portfolio management tool, rolling up crucial data from your projects into unified…

How to Reduce the Impact of Cognitive Biases on Project Decisions

Have you ever taken your friends to your favorite restaurant only to be surprised that they didn’t like it? Maybe you recently changed your car and now it seems everyone is driving the same model! Did you ever want to leave a bad movie early but stuck it out as the ticket was expensive and you wanted to get something in return? Well, I have experienced all of these situations, and I am sure you have too. These scenarios are classic examples of cognitive biases, mental shortcuts that influence how we perceive the world, interact with others, and make decisions. As project management is so reliant upon effective decision making, understanding the impact of cognitive biases and how we can overcome these limitations is an extremely useful tool for project managers and teams.   The role of Cognitive Biases Whilst there are numerous examples of cognitive biases, it is useful to understand why we rely on these flawed systems in the first place. The purpose of a bias or mental shortcut is to save mental time and energy when making a decision. Cognitive biases address four key issues: Too much information: We generate over 5 quintillion bytes of data daily,…

How to use Consensus Decision Making for Project Management

Recent research suggests that we make around 35,000 decisions every day, ranging from the mundane (what to have for breakfast) through to potentially life-altering situations (accepting the offer of a new role). Add individual experiences and biases, time constraints, pressure from various sources and many other variables to the mix, and it is little wonder that we suffer from decision fatigue! However, we cannot avoid making decisions, especially when delivering collaborative projects. Effective project management relies upon individuals and teams making informed decisions on a regular basis; which project should we start next and why? What are the requirements for this project? How should the team manage resources? How often will the team meet to discuss progress? Who is responsible for liaising with stakeholders? As a project manager, you also need to decide if you will involve your team in decision making, and if so, to what extent. Consensus decision making – the idea that each person will support the implementation of the decision, regardless of whether or not he/she agrees with the decision – is a collaborative approach that overcomes many of these challenges. In this post, I will outline the steps and skills required for consensus decision-making in project teams.…

A Three-Step Framework for Collaborative Project Management

Project management has been around for centuries. From the Great Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China through to the Industrial Revolution, the construction of the Transcontinental Railway, and other contemporary feats, projects have always been a route to transformation and change. This should mean that we are all brilliant project managers, adept at leading projects and teams to success. Unfortunately, as these examples of failed projects prove, this is simply not the case. Project management is not going away but it’s not getting any easier! So what’s the solution? How can project managers and teams overcome the many challenges and obstacles facing projects to achieve their goals? Collaborative project management, which emphasizes teamwork and cooperation, may hold the answer. In this article, I will explore the benefits of collaborative project management and outline a three-step framework to help you implement this approach with your team.   Project Management Challenges “Health warning! Project Management does require a determination to keep going to the end, as there will be difficult periods on most projects”, Eamonn McGuiness, BrightWork CEO and author, ‘Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook’. I am sure that many of you are nodding vigorously whilst reading the above…

How to Use Emotional Intelligence for Enhanced Team Collaboration

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

9 Survival Tips for Accidental Project Managers

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

Leverage Change Management for Better Projects

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

How to Manage Difficult Conversations with Team Members

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

A Practical Guide to Prioritizing Project Tasks

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

How to Reach Your Personal and Professional Goals

“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” — Fitzhugh Dodson Goals, whether personal or professional, are powerful motivators and opportunities for change.  As a project leader, you need to consider goals from two angles. Firstly, you should establish your own goals and define a plan to achieve these outcomes. This will ensure you remained focused on the road ahead and experience each day with intent. Secondly, you need to work with team members to identify their goals and steps to fulfill their objectives. Research conducted by the Harvard Business School demonstrates that assessing individual goals, aligning these goals with corporate strategies, and supporting teams in achieving their goals is vitally important to engagement and performance. Connecting individuals to their ‘why’ is a very powerful motivator. In this article, I will outline some ideas to help you identify and set goals.   Why are goals so important? A goal is defined as ‘the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result’. Goals provide focus and direction as we work towards the desired outcome, such as running a marathon or joining a new project to upskill.…