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…

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.

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…

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.…

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…

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…

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…

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.  

Are You Ready for No Interruptions Day?

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

2017 Highlights: Top 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 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…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

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 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…

Artificial Intelligence in Project Management [Guest Post]

Now, there are quite a few things that you would need to take into account when it comes to project management and the dynamic technological environment that we live in is definitely one of them. We live in a world in which technology is advancing at the blink of an eye, making it particularly important for any enterprise to consider its approaches with the upcoming changes. Of course, some changes already here while others are far from being reached. One example is artificial intelligence. This is also commonly referred to as cognitive computing and it is something that’s quickly making inroads into certain professional services. The emerging technology is most definitely going to have a significant impact on jobs across different industries including health care, finance, and the legal world. Even though it’s going to change jobs,  AI is also going to create new ones. There are quite a few things which would have to be accounted for when talking about project management in the world of cognitive computing. Below you will find a few examples of the ways artificial intelligence can and will impact project management in the not so distant future. 1. Methods, Practices, and Tools The AI…

How to Advance Your Project Management Career

In today’s business environment, the traditional ‘job for life’ doesn’t exist anymore. The average person changes jobs up to fifteen times over the course of their career, with an average job duration of five years. Reasons for changing jobs are numerous and vary by individual circumstance and career trajectory. In this age of job-hopping, it’s important to cultivate transferrable, in-demand skills to propel your career. Project management is one such skill. By 2027, employers will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management oriented roles, both as full-time project managers and as individuals with some project responsibilities. Even if you are not pursuing a career as a project manager, you should consider developing some core skills and competencies to remain competitive in the job market. In this article, I’ll explore key trends in project management recruitment and how to set achievable career goals. Project Management Career Trends    Project management is a growth industry and is showing no signs of slowing down.  In addition to adding 87.7 million roles to the global economy, the project management profession is expected to grow by USD$6.61 trillion between 2010 and 2020. This expansion incorporates sectors traditionally reliant upon project management such as construction, and less project-oriented industries such as healthcare and…

5 Tips to Help You Pass Your Project Management Qualification Exams [Guest Post]

The pressure of an upcoming exam is enough to make even the most confident and skilled individual feel stressed or anxious. This is particularly true when talking about a project management qualification exam. Regardless of whether you are working on PMP, Agile or PRINCE2, these qualifications have the ability to catapult someone into a very successful career and are highly sought after in their respective industries. In order to improve your chances of getting the marks you need and passing your exams, you will need to take some steps to ensure that you perform to the best of your ability.   1. Break things down If you have a lot of content to get through and many different areas to learn before your exam, then it is essential that you take the time to break tasks down to make them easier to understand. Often students get overwhelmed with the amount of material they need to revise for which can cause panic, limiting the amount of information you take in.   2. Seek help Thanks to the internet, you are never too far away from having access to the answers to any questions you may have. If you are struggling with…

3 Communication Skills for Project Managers to Master using TED Talks

Communication is one of the truly key skills that project managers need to develop in order to drive their project success. From their ability to listen and negotiate to their public speaking skills, project managers need to be excellent and rounded communicators. Of course, communication is a skill which needs to be developed and continuously honed over time so let’s turn to TED Talks for the best content to help us on our way to becoming great communicators. TED Talks has become an absolutely incredible resource, with truly helpful and inspiring presentations given by tremendous individuals the world over.  Here are 3 Communication Skills for Project Managers to Master using TED Talks, with 6 brilliant presentations that are well worth your time. Get bookmarking! 1- Master Negotiation William Ury’s ‘The walk from no to yes’ is an 18-minute masterclass on negotiation. Ury lays out the way to create agreement in even the most difficult situations — from family conflict to the Middle East. So this approach must surely be enough for project managers to excel in those tricky negotiations with project stakeholders and contributors! Learn about the different ‘sides of conflict‘ and how to satisfy all parties and find that “18th camel”…

8 Ways to Create Engaging PowerPoint Presentations

In a recent post, I outlined 13 ways to prepare and deliver exceptional presentations for your projects. In this article, I’m going to share 8 tips and additional resources for creating engaging slide decks.   1. Content Outline A great design cannot save poor content so take time to research and prepare your presentation. Develop an outline of the presentation, taking the audience, your objectives, and timings into account. It’s best to focus on one key idea, which is divided into 2-3 supporting points.    2. One Idea per Slide Despite what we like to think, humans are not wired to multitask. Your audience cannot read a dense slide, listen to you, and understand your message at the same time. In reality, you only have about 3 seconds for someone to view a slide and grasp the meaning before switching their attention back to you. Each slide should have just one idea; use as many slides as you need to! Use slide notes to capture any extra information you need to remember and practice in advance.   3. Themes Visual consistency helps your audience to grasp your message quickly, making a template essential. Before jumping into the design of your slides, find out…

How to Improve your Project Management Skills [Guest Post]

In most instances, the best way to improve your project management skills is to dive into a project and experience successes and fails first-hand. However, if you feel as though you have reached a point where your progress has stagnated and you want to take your project management to the next level, there are a few ways in which you can give your project management skills a bit of a boost.   Engage the team regularly With only half of the information available, you can only do half a job. In order to more effectively manage a project and a team, you should engage with them regularly through meetings and stand-ups. In these meetings, you review the progress of the project – what’s been done, what’s being done, and what needs to be done – and address any questions or issues that you or the team may have about the project. Make sure you stay on topic in these meetings and spend a couple of minutes to allow each person to tell the rest of the team what they have on their agenda for the day. This ensures that not only are you up to date on what’s going on…

13 Tips to Deliver Exceptional Presentations

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

5 Steps to Create Habits that Last

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

How to Create a Project Communication Plan

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

Rest More and Do Less to Improve Your Productivity

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

3 Ways BrightWork Makes Task Management Easier in SharePoint

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

Early Signs of Project Failure [Guest Post]

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

How to Manage Your Time and Overcome the Myth of Multitasking

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

REP: 3 Steps to Successful Collaborative Project Management

 “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that our aim is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo   As you start a new month and a new quarter, it’s a good time to think about your goals and any changes you would like to make, both professional and personal. Is there a new skill you would like to learn, or a habit you wish to form? Is there an element of your collaborative project management approach that needs some attention? Perhaps you already know what you need to work on but don’t know where to start? Quite often, people struggle to make long-lasting, meaningful change. At BrightWork, we have crafted the “REP” approach to personal change management. REP stands for Research, Execute and Post-Mortem. REP is a play on the word ‘repetition’ and is a very simple but effective personal change management process. Effective project management involves more than developing and following a plan; you must invest in your leadership skills and personal development. REP is the key to this challenge.     Research Phase The purpose of the research phase is to gather new knowledge…

6 Ways to Improve Project Communication [Infographic]

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

6 Ideas to Improve Your Project Resource Management

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

How to Reduce the Impact of Cognitive Biases on Project Decisions

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

Has Technology Helped with Workplace Mood?[Guest Post]

If you’ve ever worked in a company with dated technology, you know how this can be frustrating. Still, when most employers think of boosting morale, they think of things like team-building exercises and extracurricular activities. These things usually provide some lift, but their effects are likely to be temporary in the absence of adequate technology. Technology Symbolizes Forward Movement When a business isn’t investing in technology, they are sending the message that they do not have the funds or desire to advance their business. Naturally, employees who work for unmotivated employers are more likely to suffer from a morale deficiency. Employees Trained on Technology are More Efficient Technology can be a helpful tool in training most workers. With online software programs and tutorials, employers can provide a thorough and consistent training experience. Employees who are well-trained are more confident in their jobs and feel more secure about their place in the company. They are also more likely to see a career path for themselves at the company, which can help improve their overall mood. Technology Naturally Boosts Productivity Think about the difference in time it would take to handwrite and hand-distribute a company memo versus sending a simple email. This…

How to use Consensus Decision Making for Project Management

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

A Three-Step Framework for Collaborative Project Management

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

How to Be an Effective Project Manager in the IT Industry [Guest Post]

What distinguishes mediocre managers from high-quality ones? Mediocre managers are unwilling to do what they expect their employees to do. High-quality managers never ask their employees to do something they themselves would never do. Employees trust the manager who values them as an equal. A strict work hierarchy creates a toxic environment for innovation and job satisfaction. Being a high-quality manager is something that many people are ill-suited for. Why? Once they get to their coveted promotion, they live it big and ignore those under them. Avoid Incompetence Do not be a manager who imitates the failures in management around you. Set an example of integrity and excellence that your employees trust. An important thing to keep in mind are the 7 Habits that Stephen Covey pioneered. The 7 Habits can be applied to transform your workforce. Stephen Covey spoke of how the most effective people put values above impulses. The most ineffective people live entirely on impulses. Make sure that your value foundation is a healthy one by learning from those around you. If you are not taking responsibility for your life, then your employees will not either. What matters most is your example, not your words.   Have…

9 Survival Tips for Accidental Project Managers

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

What can Project Managers Learn from Space Exploration Programs?

The human pursuit of the final frontier has been an incredible source of wonder and inspiration for us all over the last number of decades. The imagination, ambition, and dedication displayed by these teams in achieving what was once inconceivable is a magnificent example to all who pursue their goals. For project managers especially, this could be considered the very pinnacle of the discipline. With such high risks and demands, the methods and successes and failures of these pioneers can inform our own project management practices and provide invaluable insights. Here are three projects from high-pressure space programs that project managers can really learn from. 1. Failed Collaboration: NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter burns up in the Martian Atmosphere Source The $125 million satellite was supposed to be the first weather observer on another world. However, a simple communication error and a lack of fact checking led to the orbiter disappearing entirely without ever providing any results. The engineers at Lockheed Martin, who constructed the orbiter, expressed their calculations in ‘pounds’ of pressure’; however, it was standard practice at NASA to use a conversion to ‘newtons’ to do these calculations. The difference in figures caused the craft to travel far too close…

How to Overcome Low Employee Engagement Levels

Attracting, retaining, and engaging employees is becoming an increasing challenge for organizations, which in turn, impacts on project delivery. Employee engagement is used to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of an organization’s approach to human resource management. An “engaged employee” is defined as one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests. A disengaged worker is likely to be unenthusiastic about their job, finding little meaning or value in their role; they are also uninterested in improving the company’s reputation. Collins (2001) declared that the top performing companies prioritize getting the right people in the company before deciding vision, strategy, organization structure and even business tactics. However, the challenge for organizations is to keep employees at a high level of engagement throughout their tenure. This article outlines engagement challenges and success factors, including employee feedback.   Engagement Challenges Gallup’s 142 country study on the State of the Global Workplace (2012) found that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. In other words, only one in eight workers, roughly 180 million employees in the countries studied are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be…

Leverage Change Management for Better Projects

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

How to Manage Difficult Conversations with Team Members

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

A Practical Guide to Prioritizing Project Tasks

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

Tackling Scrum Agile for the First Time: A BrightWork Approach

If you know Scrum Agile, you may be thinking about introducing this methodology to your projects. To help you get started, I’ll share some experiences and tips following our application of the methodology in 2016. The Need for Change Our team is responsible for developing custom business solutions internally for BrightWork. We have delivered many successful projects over the years without the help of Scrum Agile, so let me start by saying only change your formula if you feel it is going to bring about a real positive change. Giving Scrum Agile a run made sense for us and we felt it was the right fit for some of our development programs. Only change your formula if you feel it is going to bring about a real positive change We wanted a change because we felt more traditional methods of project management were missing a certain versatility. We would begin with a requirement, kick off our development, and come back to the table some time later with a release candidate. We felt we were failing to get adequate feedback from the product owners along the journey but more significantly, the solution we were building never had a chance to adapt…

How to Reach Your Personal and Professional Goals

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

15 Ways to Cultivate Your Project Leadership Style

If you are a new Project Manager, you really should think about leadership. It is very important to have a set of process steps to deliver successful project management. They will be your map for collaborative project management, without which you will get lost, your project may fail, and your project team will be disappointed in you. But even if you know how to navigate the project management terrain very well, you will need to do so with a leadership style that works for you and also works for collaborative project management. And if you are getting your stripes for the first time, this may be difficult for you. In this article, I will introduce 15 ideas to ways to cultivate your leadership style. In a follow-up article, I will outline elements relating to the team. Project Leadership Practices* Good leadership is a choice you make. Great leaders are not born thus. Great leaders make the necessary investments. Taking responsibility to lead yourself to a better place one day at a time will help you become a strong leader for others. Are you in that good place already or are you prepared to make the commitment to get there? If…