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…

A Quick Guide to 9 Essential Project Documents

What is going to be more successful –  a project with two or three project documents or a project with hundreds of project documents? Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” answer to that question; a well-run project may need either and all of the in-between. Projects can vary in size, deliverables, life cycle, scope and that is just the tip of the variable iceberg. What is certain is that project documentation should be clear, relevant and up to date. This will ensure all project stakeholders are on the same page at the same time. Expectations, requirements, resources and risks should be obvious to all from the outset. I recently asked some of my wider community for tips on project documentation and I have summarized my findings in the blog post below. Enjoy and feel free to add your own tips and thoughts in the comments section too!   Questions to Ask Before you Start Project Documentation Prior to kicking off the gathering or developing of project documentation, it is important you first have an understanding of why the project is happening and what type of governance the project may require. This will determine how much and what type…

The Business Case for Project Portfolio Management Software

You would think because project management is a relatively old and mature discipline, it would be practised 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…

5 Ways to Improve Team Productivity Each Project Manager Should Try [Guest Post]

As a project manager, it can be a huge challenge to keep the team motivated and on schedule. That is why one of the most important skills a project manager can learn is how to boost productivity and get the job done quickly and accurately. There are many different techniques that can be used, and it would be near impossible to mention all of them. Instead, here is a selection of five different ways to improve team productivity. The list purposefully covers quite a broad spectrum of ideas since every team is different and what works for one may not work with another. Some of the ideas are fairly basic such as observing your team to find out their preferred working environment while others are more elaborate, incentive-based techniques designed to motivate the team. Which style do you think fits your team? Let’s take a closer look.   5 Ways to Improve Team Productivity 1. Learn How Your Team Works Best One of the best ways any project manager can boost productivity in their team is to learn how they work best. This means figuring out how they prefer to communicate with each other, what collaboration tools they prefer to…

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,…

Why Healthcare Staff “Buy In” is Key during Large Scale Projects

Managing large scale projects is often a challenge because of the degree of complexity and potential impact of the project on the organization. Larger projects also often require a significant amount of time, resources and team members, all of which are required to bring the project successfully to completion. In a healthcare environment, managing large projects, such as the federally mandated requirement for hospitals to implement electronic medical records, can bring a few unique challenges as teams work to change processes and systems while still using the current ones to treat patients. In addition, since this type of project potentially affects just about every member of a patient care team, organizations must have complete buy-in from all team members and staff to properly complete the project and successfully implement the new system. Without full buy-in, the new system is likely to suffer from information gaps, misuse or disuse and is ultimately likely to fail. Employee buy-in, or engagement, happens when employees feel inspired by their work and love what they do. Engaged employees are also committed to their own success and the success of the overall organization. Engaged employees believe that they can make a difference in the organizations they…

4 Ways to Optimize Your SharePoint Site for Project Management

If you want to deploy project management in your organization, don’t look any further than SharePoint.  Microsoft SharePoint is an amazing tool for collaboration and information sharing but can be quite easily transformed into a powerful project management solution.  This blog post looks at four ways you can optimize your SharePoint environment to start managing projects effectively today.     1. Start where you are ready       One of the first things to consider when implementing project management is that if you try for too much too soon, you will fail…  Simple as that.  Time and time again, we see vendors and customers who are so eager to deploy project management that they implement every possible feature on day one. Unfortunately, if you are operating in an immature project management environment, it would be virtually impossible for your firm to maintain that level of PM rigor – especially when you didn’t have any process to begin with! But that doesn’t mean you are not ready for project management… you just need to start where you are ready.  Every organization is ready for project management, the question is simply about how much. In the spectrum above,  it’s clear some projects require…

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…

Can You Identify Top 25 Reasons For “Why a PMO?”

A Project Management Office (PMO) is the administrative mechanism by which a focal point is provided for organizational project management activities. An effective project management office is aligned with the strategic planning goals of the organization and should be able to show visible value to the bottom-line. TOP 25 REASONS FOR WHY A PMO? You may not want to include all these reasons in a business case for a PMO but choose the ones most relevant to your organization. Capturing project requests and ensuring each request meets basic PMO requirements. Keeping an up-to-date repository of projects underway and requests pending review. Managing a resource forecast to help understand resource availability for projects. Achieving in cost reduction through efficient, centralized services Having a direct impact on the bottom-line of the organization by cutting cut project overruns. Contributing to project quality assurance. Improving IT and business efficiency in delivering projects consistently within time and budget. Defining a set of project management standards, guidelines, and methods that can be used consistently throughout the organization by project and program managers. Managing the shared portfolio, program and project management methodology and processes across the organization. Ensuring the defined project management standards and procedures are followed. Managing and…

4 Benefits of Managing Your Project Office on SharePoint

A project management office (PMO) is a group or department within a business responsible for defining and maintaining project management standards throughout the organization. The PMO helps to focus, centralize, and coordinate all projects under its remit.   Best practice templates, dashboards, and a proven deployment approach can get you started fast with a fully working project office on SharePoint.  Here are four benefits of putting something like this in place in SharePoint: Quickly get control of all on-going work Report across portfolios and resources Connect/collaborate with team members Increase your overall project success rate.   4 Benefits of Managing Your Project Office on SharePoint 1. Quickly get control of all on-going work SharePoint provides a collaborative environment to share project and portfolio information.  It is configurable and can be tailored to support the information needed to manage and control projects and work. You can begin by establishing a Project Office site with simple Project Tracking capability in a familiar “Excel” like table interface.   With the Projects Tracker, you get an immediate report on project status and progress. This type of project management allows you to take control of the project portfolio quickly and can be easily deployed in SharePoint.     2. Report across portfolios and…

Improve Your Project Management Processes with Repeatable Best Practices

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

9 Benefits of Having Great Project Management

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

A Quick Guide to the Project Management Office (PMO)

Project portfolio management  (PPM) helps organizations to deliver projects in line with agreed strategic business goals; it’s about the right projects at the right time. Of course, even when the best projects are selected, how can an organization ensure the work is completed to the desired standards? This responsibility often falls to the project management office (PMO). Read on to learn more about the PMO, including benefits, PMO frameworks, and introducing a PMO to your organization.   What is a Project Management Office? A project management office refers to a group or department within a business responsible for defining and maintaining project management standards throughout the organization. The structure and size of project management offices vary from one organization to another according to business needs, available resources, and project management maturity. PMOs are typically departmentally based with many organizations operating several PMOs.   PMO Responsibilities and Benefits     According to the Project Management Institute, PMOs completed an average of US$100 million worth of projects in 2012 and delivered around US$71 million in value through revenue increases and/or cost reductions. In a more recent study, the PMI found 80% of organizations with a strong project management culture have an active…

Introducing Project Management in your Organization

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

How to Engage Project Sponsors to Keep Projects on Track

One of the most difficult parts of the job for a new project manager is managing the relationships and expectations with senior executives and project sponsors. This vital relationship should not be overlooked. In ‘Pulse of the Profession 2018‘, the Project Management Institute reports organizations with engaged sponsors report 40% more successful projects than those with a lower percentage of projects with sponsors (less than 50% of their projects). At BrightWork, we have also identified active project sponsorship as a critical project success factor. Often, poor communication tool is the root cause of inadequate sponsorship engagement.  For a variety of reasons, project updates are often inaccurate and not provided to them in a timely manner.  As a result, sponsors and senior executives don’t participate in the project to the fullest extent possible. It’s not that they don’t want to be helpful, as they have a vested interest in the successful delivery of the project.  But when they don’t have a clear picture of the state of the project, it is hard to give quality feedback to provide guidance. Don’t turn sponsors into roadblocks.  With open and accurate communication, you can turn them into enablers who can help get a project back on track…

6 Simple Steps to Start any Project

Getting your project off the ground can be a difficult task at the best of times and it can often be hard to even know where to start! Fear not, for there are a few simple steps that you can begin to take today that will ensure you get your work done on time and done well.   6 Simple Steps to Start any Project 1. Define Your Goals First things first: decide what you want to achieve. This is done by ensuring you put a lot of thinking into what your goals are for your project. I suggest having one main goal and a number of smaller goals that will ultimately lead you to project success. Coincidentally, I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago detailing how you can develop SMART goals which you can read more about here!   2. Identify Your Team Members The second step on the ladder to beginning any project is the identification of the various team members to be involved. This step must be considered from a number of viewpoints: firstly, who do you already have? Identify their strengths and weaknesses and make further actions off the back of these. Secondly, who do you…

Save Time by Managing Your Email [Infographic]

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

7 Irish Sayings to Make You a Better Project Manager

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

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

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

5 Ways to Get Users to Follow Your Local Project Methodology

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

7 Women Leading the Way in IT Project Management

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

5 Factors for Choosing the Right Project Management Solution

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

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

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

Growing Organizational Project Management with SharePoint Templates

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

Managing Recurring Tasks in SharePoint

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

How to Create an Effective Project Schedule

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

Project Management and SharePoint – Where’s the Fit?

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

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

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

11 Ways to Improve Your Project Management Approach

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

A Quick Guide to ‘Getting Things Done’

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

6 Benefits of Using a Project Management Solution

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

The 3 Ds for Managing Distractions!

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

3 Ways to Deliver a Consistent Project Management Approach

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

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

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

6 Attributes to Look for in your Project Management Champion!

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

Cultivating a Successful Project Management Culture at Your Company

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

Personal Energy Audit: 5 Emotional Factors

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

Save Time by Managing Your Energy [Infographic]

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

5 Critical Success Factors for Project Management Improvement

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

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…

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…