6 Attributes to Look for in your Project Management Champion!

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

Cultivating a Successful Project Management Culture at Your Company

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

Personal Energy Audit: 5 Emotional Factors

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

Save Time by Managing Your Energy [Infographic]

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

5 Critical Success Factors for Project Management Improvement

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

2017 Highlights: Top 3 Project Management Webinars

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

6 Tips for Choosing Effective Project Team Members

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

2017 Highlights: Top 10 Project Management Articles

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

How to Track Resources in SharePoint with Configurable Reports

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

5 Collaboration Trends You Will See in Project Management During 2018

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

How to Improve Project Visibility

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

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

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

10 Tips for Successful Teamwork

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

3 Ways to Help Team Members Contribute to Project Success

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

Working Effectively with Remote Teams Using SharePoint

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

4 Practical Ways to Demonstrate Project Leadership Skills

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

Project Management on SharePoint: Build vs. Buy

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

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

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

Should You Track and Report on Project Risks?

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

4 Steps to Effectively Track and Re-Plan Your Project

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

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…

Are You Haunted By Poor Project Management?

In many organizations, the ghosts and goblins of poor project management are haunting all year round, not just at Halloween! A Frightening Scenario Here’s a scary scenario that anyone involved in project management will probably recognize: Projects are not meeting expectations! They can drag on over-scope, over-budget, over-schedule, or under deliver on promised deliverables. Executives do not have real-time visibility into all projects! If they have visibility, senior executives and project managers can begin to pull on the levers of control. The people working on projects are not trained in formal collaborative project management! The people involved in the project – especially those managing the project – are not experienced and trained enough in collaborative project management. A term that has been in use for many years now is “P-MBA” or Project Manager by Accident! This label describes the project management reality of many organizations. Your organization does not have best practice processes and guidance for project managers! This includes documentation, explanations, templates and training that explain to people how you want projects run and how you want them to be successful. It Doesn’t Have to be so Scary! Does the scenario above seem all to familiar?  Well… it doesn’t have…

Leadership Styles and Project Management

So what exactly is the role of the project leader and how can we link leadership to performance? Project leadership is about leading the project in the context of the wider business and organizational strategy. It is creating the culture and working environment within the project that contributes to its success and performance. It is about decision making, judgment calls, and motivating the team with consistent communication. All these areas indicate how the project leader’s behavior can influence success. There are, of course, a variety of different styles in leadership, for different contexts and approaches. This article will address these styles and how they can be applied in project dynamics. 6 Project Leadership Styles Daniel Goleman’s Leadership That Gets Results, a landmark 2000 Harvard Business Review study is an authoritative source on leadership styles. Goleman and his team completed a three-year study with over 3,000 middle-level managers. Their goal was to uncover specific leadership behaviors and determine their effect on the performance. Here are the six leadership styles Goleman identified among the managers he studied, as well as a brief analysis of the effects of each style: The pacesetting leader expects and models excellence and self-direction. If this style were summed…

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.…

Get a Fast Start to Your Project – Track the Essentials

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

A Quick Guide to Project Teams: Types and Benefits

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

Reporting on a Hierarchy of Sites and Projects in SharePoint

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

6 Things Project Managers need to do to Earn a Promotion

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

How to Use Project Portfolio Metrics to Deliver Business Value

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

Is Resilience the Secret to Being Happy at Work?

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

Project Reports – Know Your Audience!

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

Using SharePoint for Project Issue Management

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

9 Steps for Implementing Successful Project Portfolio Management

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

3 Project Reporting Scenarios Your Senior Executives Will Love

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

Using Project Metrics for Successful Project Management

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

Why do You Need to Worry About Imposter Syndrome?

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

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

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

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

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

Six Sigma Methods and Project Management [Guest Post]

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

The Business Case for Project Portfolio Management Software

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

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

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

How to Work Effectively with Your Project Sponsor

Think back to your most recent successful project. What factors contributed to the desired outcome? A clear purpose supported by a detailed plan? Access to the right resources at the right time? An engaged team? A little bit of luck? Although a number of elements underpin project success, access to an active project sponsor is the most important, and perhaps, the most elusive. 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…

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…