Project Management 101
Everything You Need to Train New Project Team Members
According to the Project Management Institute, a project is a temporary endeavor with a defined beginning and end, and defined scope and resources.
Project management refers to the ‘application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques’ to the activities agreed in the project plan to deliver the agreed requirements.
It is through systematic and consistent project management that individuals, teams, and organizations can achieve growth, transformation, and innovation.
A survey conducted by KMPG in 2017 shows organizations who take project management seriously are seeing impressive results:
- 61% of organizations feel success rates increased in the last 2 years
- 21% of projects are consistently delivering value
- 33% of projects are likely to meet original business goals
- 34% of projects are likely to gain stakeholder satisfaction.
Unfortunately, project managers must overcome numerous hurdles to success, both within their organization and within the wider economy.
Amongst these, the absence of a standardized approach and an organizational culture that does not support project management present high-risk challenges.
In their 2018 Pulse of the Profession Report, the Project Management Institute (PMI) found organizations who undervalue project management experienced failure in over 50% of the projects.
This guide will help you understand the basics of project management, provide training for new team members, and win buy-in for project management.
Table of Contents
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Chapter 1. Why do Organizations need Project Management?
Project management is a growth industry and is showing no signs of slowing down. Between 2010 and 2020, the project management profession is expected to add 87.7 million roles and USD$6.61 trillion to the global economy.
This growth spans sectors traditionally reliant upon project management such as construction, and less project-oriented industries such as healthcare.
Several factors are driving this growth:
- Dealing with an increasingly turbulent global economy, organizations must do more with less and are more risk-averse. Projects deliver competitive advantage using established process and tools.
- Organizations now recognize project management reduces time to market and accelerates responses to new opportunities, boosting the overall success of the business.
- Organizations are increasingly reliant on new technologies and need projects to implement and manage these systems.
Project management helps to bring order to chaos, holds teams together, maximize resources, and delivers quality outputs. Project management also ensures organizations tackle the right projects at the right time, reducing the likelihood of failure.
According to BrightWork CEO, Éamonn McGuinness, delivering successful projects enables organizations to reach their strategic objectives quickly with enhanced long-term commercial results.
9 Reasons Why Project Management Matters
Adopting a common approach to project management leads to lower costs, improved efficiencies, increased customer satisfaction, competitive advantage, and more.
Look at this list, and think about your organization’s current approach to project management. Are you enjoying these benefits?
1. Effective project planning
A well-developed project plan improves resource management; provides a baseline for performance management, and enables tracking as the project progresses. The plan should answer questions around the goals of the project, budget, timelines, and team members.
2. Improved Tracking
Projects rarely go according to plan! Using a project management approach makes it easier to track and report on progress, and figure out if any projects are in trouble. With this information, you can decide what to do, and what support is needed, for example, stakeholder input.
3. Enhanced Change Management
Integrating change management into your project plan increases stakeholder engagement and end-user adoption – the ultimate measures of project success. Change management also reduces the impact of scope creep or uncontrolled changes to the project.
4. Better Risk Management
Using project management processes, teams can identify potential risks before the work begins. If these risks affect the project during execution, the team are better placed to detect and address the problem.
5. Better Quality
Project management provides a means to align outcomes with stakeholder expectations, gather feedback on a regular basis, and leverage new technologies to deliver better quality solutions.
6. Greater Team Development
In their study of high-performance teams, Dr. Ruth Wageman and Dr. Richard Hackman identified three conditions essential to team dynamics: real team, compelling direction, and the right team. An exciting project vision combined with a clear plan and the right tools helps teams to meet these conditions. In turn, this boosts innovation, collaboration, and productivity.
7. Improved Reputation
In time, successful project teams gain the recognition of their colleagues and managers. Organizations also benefit from an increased standing among their competitors and future clients.
Project managers unite the team behind a clear vision and keep everyone motivated. Project managers can coach and mentor the team as needed so they can do their best work.
9. Organizational Capabilities
Improving project management processes is not just about financial gains; organizations can also transform internal culture and ways of working. Modern work is best described as a set of self-managed tasks. Introducing project management helps organization shift to a focus on goals, metrics, and processes to support the execution of these tasks.
Now that you have read about the importance of project management to organizations, let’s take a look at the discipline of project management in more detail.
Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook
Get practical advice on managing projects, team collaboration, and leadership
Chapter 2. What is Project Management?
Project management is needed to deliver the on-time, on-budget results, learning, and integration required by organizations.
These standards are incorporated into the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), which defines a project as:
- A job that has a beginning and an end (Time)
- At a stated level of Performance (Quality)
- At a budget (Cost) and a specific outcome (Scope).
To maintain high standards and continuous improvement in the profession, the Project PMI offers the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. The PMP certification is recognized internationally in all industries and is based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).
Another popular definition of project management is PRINCE2 (an acronym for PRojects IN Controlled Environments), an approach developed in the UK. PRINCE2 defines project management as: “a temporary organization that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to an agreed business case.”
Project Portfolio Management
Many organizations run multiple projects simultaneously, which are planned, resourced, and managed through a central project portfolio.
A portfolio is a collection of projects grouped together; an organization may have one overall portfolio or several portfolios for different areas of the business.
To help manage these portfolios, organizations are increasingly turning to the ‘Project Management Office’, a business group responsible for setting and implementing project standards.
The PMO is closely linked to project portfolio management or the centralized management of portfolios. PPM focuses on delivering the right projects at the right time.
Related projects are also grouped together as programs. These projects are interdependent and address one overall business goal.
Typically, portfolios, programs, and projects are structured in a hierarchical manner. Projects roll-up into a program, which in turn, rolls up into the relevant portfolio.
So how do you know you have a project on your hands? Here is a list of six common characteristics of a project to help answer this question:
- A project is often for a designated customer or customer base.
- A project is temporary in nature with a defined start and end date.
- A project has a specific set of objectives required within the boundaries of the project.
- A project is typically a once-off endeavor.
- A project is not ‘business as usual’, or day-to-day processes.
- A project can be cross-functional, or indeed, cross-organizational.
Project Management Organizations
A good way to implement or improve project management approaches is to understand what type of organization you are working in. There are three main types of project management organizations.
A functional organization comprises of functional areas such as finance and HR, with dedicated personnel. These teams take up project work in addition to core work; project work is independent to rest of organization.
The functional manager is in charge, meaning the project manager often exerts little influence or authority.
These companies, such as consulting firms, are structured by project, not functional area.
In this structure, the project manager is fully empowered, with resources moving between projects on a regular basis.
In a matrix organization, individuals report to both a functional manager and project manager, and need to perform both project and core work.
Depending on whether the functional manager or project manager exerts influence, this structure can vary between weak, balanced, or strong.
Project Team Types
A project team can take several forms, depending on required deliverables and organizational structure.
1. Functional/Cross Department Teams
A functional team is a permanent team formed by individuals within the same work area or department. The work carried out by functional teams supports other teams within the organization, for example, finance. They also work with other departments on projects as needed.
2. Cross-Functional Teams
A cross-functional team comprises of individuals from different departments who are brought together to solve a particular problem in a set timeframe. Once the project is completed, the team is freed up to work on other projects.
3. Virtual Teams
Global Workplace Analytics estimates around 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) work from home at least half the time. Reliant on online collaboration tools, virtual teams are characterized by:
- When people work, for example, different time zones
- Where people work, including at home or shared working spaces
- How people work, which depends on cultural, political, social, and economic factors.
Project Team Roles
As noted by the PMI, a project is a specific set of activities designed to accomplish a singular goal. The project team, people who don’t usually work together, complete these activities.
A team is defined as ‘any group of people organized to work together interdependently and cooperatively to accomplish a purpose or a goal’.
Teamwork creates a framework to help people collaborate together, leverage individual skill-sets, and boost engagement. Generally, teams of five to seven people perform well; bigger teams should be divided into smaller sub-teams.
Modern work is increasingly more team-based with up to 75% of an employee’s spent communicating with colleagues. Successful organizations invest in projects teams, combining the best skills with the right environment and support structures.
Typically, a project team has five key roles as follows.
1. Project Sponsor
An individual who champions projects at the highest level. They should have authority, influence, and a stake in the project. Sponsors matter; 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).
2. Project Manager
The person who gets things done! The project manager oversees the team but doesn’t work on the project themselves. The project manager has multiple responsibilities including:
- Working with the sponsor to determine how to approach the project
- Project planning
- Resource Management
- Stakeholder Engagement
- Team leadership
- Conflict Engagement
- Benefits Realization Management.
3. Team leader
A team lead uses their own behavior as a model for the team and coaches individuals as needed. They are responsible for overseeing day-to-day activities. In some cases, organizations will hire either a project manager or team lead, or combine both roles.
4. Team members
Each team member should possess the right skills and attitude to work on the project. Depending on roles and resource allocation process, you may need to liaise with the relevant sponsor or manager to get the best candidates assigned to the project. Skills to seek include communication, confidence, project management knowledge, and self-awareness.
5. Steering committee
As part of project governance strategies, some organizations use a steering committee to plan and direct the project. The committee also deals with change requests and the prioritization of requirements.
Key Project Management Sectors
Whilst all sectors and organizations need project management, some industries require more than others.
Projects completed by government agencies vary in size, complexity, and approach. These projects are also subject to the frequent movement of personnel, complex relationships between departments, and changes in direction following elections. Pressure to deliver is high due to public funding and scrutiny. As you can imagine, federal projects are tricky!
To help improve federal project outcomes, President Obama signed the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act (PMIAA) into law in December 2016. This act seeks to enhance best practices in project and program management throughout the federal government. Proposed benefits of the act include:
- Creating a career path for program managers in the federal government.
- Developing a standards-based program management policy across the federal government.
- Assigning a senior executive in federal agencies to oversee program management policy and strategy.
- Improved knowledge sharing.
Transparent reporting, document management, and secure project sites are vital to government program and project managers.
Healthcare is one of the largest industries in the world. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, national health care spending grew 5.8 percent in 2015 to $3.2 trillion and is expected to grow 5.6 percent annually through 2025. Using project management software, healthcare providers seek to introduce new processes, improve patient care, enhance services, and decrease costs – all whilst maintaining the integrity of patient data and records.
Manufacturers require successful projects to expand their business, get to market faster, and build customer satisfaction. To achieve these goals, manufacturers need streamlined and standardized processes with easy access to project data, milestone tracking, and progress updates.
Organizations use project management to both integrate new technologies, and to deliver new technologies to drive competitive growth. Looking to the future, technological advances such as automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will radically disrupt how organizations do business, creating new opportunities for project work. IT project managers must keep up-to-date with these rapid changes if they want to deliver successful projects and develop their career options.
Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook
Help your team to work and grow together
Chapter 3. Challenges to Successful Project Management
- Target’s entry into Canada: In 2011, Target made its first foray into Canada, a move that would cost the company $7 billion dollars. Reasons for failure include poor supply chain management, overpricing, and trying to do too much at once with 189 new stores.
- Volkswagen’s Vehicle Emissions System: Prioritizing cost over quality, competitive pressure, and poor project visibility led Volkswagen to a costly scandal in 2015. In short, the company was forced to admit to cheating emissions tests in the US. A settlement plan for over 80,000 drivers of 3-litre vehicles is likely to cost around $1.22 billion and follows a $14.7 billion buy-back scheme of 475,000 2-litre vehicles
- NHS’ Civilian IT Project: The NHS’s NPFIT project, intended to serve 40,000 GPs and 300 plus hospitals, was claimed to be the world’s largest civil IT project. Unfortunately, poor planning, lack of change management, and chaos in some hospitals forced the NHS to abandon the project in 2010. The original budget of $4.6 billion escalated to $24 billion.
Whilst not all failures are so spectacular, any delays or deviations from the plan can have major implications. In 2014, the Standish Group reported that among the failed or challenged projects:
- 53% had a cost overrun of 50% or more
- 68% a schedule overrun of over 50%
- 68% had a content deficiency with more than 50% of the anticipated content not being delivered.
Project management is often tough and grueling. Challenges are multiple, with some relating to the discipline of project management whilst others emerging as technology and business environments evolve. To understand some of the obstacles facing project teams, let’s start with five common constraints.
5 Common Project Constraints
- Scope: The scope defines the customer’s needs and the requirements expressed. Changes to the scope, also known as scope creep, can severely affect the project timeline and budget. However, many project managers struggle to say no to requests from senior management or don’t track these ‘small’ changes.
- Time: Typically, a project is required by a customer in a fixed amount of time and by a deadline. In some cases, the deadline is simply unrealistic; in other instances, timelines may change unexpectedly whilst the project is underway.
- Quality: The third constraint is the quality of the work required on the project. Depending on project objectives, teams may need to sacrifice quality to meet a deadline.
- Cost/Resources: The available budget and resources available to a team will either help or hinder the outcome.
- Value: Another constraint is the amount of value provided by the project or this iteration of the project.
It’s not possible to fix and agree on these five constraints as the projects starts, which is why they’re called conflicting constraints.
As you start a new project, it is unlikely you can agree to deliver forty new requirements on your project, in one year, to a perfect quality standard, with one person on the team and deliver all the business value expected.
You will not know enough about the specifics of the requirements. You do not yet know what else might happen in the year, for example, team members moving to another company or an economic downturn. It is likely there is no common understanding of what the quality standard is to be able to make this commitment.
One way to move forward is the time–quality–cost triangle. You need to figure out which element is most important, for example, quality, and adjust the other elements as needed. In this instance, you may choose to increase the budget or extend deadlines to deliver the required quality.
Lack of a Project Management Framework
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! Success is not repeatable, and knowledge leaves as employees move to new roles.
No Tool or Best Practice Templates
The lack of standard templates, a collaborative tool, or a knowledge base often means projects are managed in email and Excel with project documents stored in obscure locations. This haphazard approach reduces project visibility for stakeholders and collaboration within teams. Rising numbers of accidental or occasional project managers: These individuals lack formal or informal project management training but need to manage projects to succeed in their roles.
Poor strategic alignment
Strategy is “a process of analysis which is designed to achieve the competitive advantage of an organization over another in the long term”. Projects help deliver agreed strategy, but only if the project outcome is matched with business strategy. Failure to do so wastes resources, leads to conflict with stakeholders, and demotivates team members. Long-term success and competitive advantage are also jeopardized as organizations spend time on the wrong projects.
The absence of a framework or tool is strongly felt when project managers try to assess the status of current work. The lack of visibility into projects is one of the most common complaints we hear from our customers. If no-one knows how projects are progressing, what work is due next, and the impact of risks, very little can be done to save a failing project.
As noted by Michael B. Bender in ‘A Manager’s Guide to Project Management’, senior executives exert substantial influence on project success. Unfortunately, many projects problems start at the top. Some notable issues include viewing project management as an overhead; poor strategic alignment; the ‘project du jour’ (constant changes in priorities), and ‘warm body syndrome’ (picking someone to manage a project simply because they are free).
One in four organizations (26%) reports inadequate sponsor support is the primary cause of failed projects. Typically, sponsors are busy people with little project management experience. They may also lack the necessary influence to overcome boundaries. Sometimes, sponsors are not engaged as they were assigned to the project and have little interest in the outcome.
In addition to managing the team, project managers must also deal with change management. Resistance to change can occur at the individual, team, or organizational level. Failing to implement change management processes has a number of implications such as reduced productivity, disengaged workers, rework, and delays.
Culture is amongst the toughest challenges for project managers. Culture provides a context for project managers, as they must learn to work within the vision, mission, values, beliefs, and expectations of their organization. Culture determines the motivations and risk appetite of the organization, which in turn, influences approved projects.
For some organizations, project management is considered an overhead, which does not provide real business value. In turn, projects are not viewed as a challenge with a ‘finish whenever’ attitude. Management and teams may even resist the introduction of project management, fearing a loss of control over their own working styles and process.
Research shows 55% of project managers believe communication is the most critical success factor for projects. However, only one in four organizations can be described as effective communicators. With project managers spending up to 90% of their time on communication, poor communication affects every aspect of the project.
At first glance, remote working is a win-win for employers and employees alike. Employers can reduce overheads such as property rental; decrease absenteeism, and take advantage of time zones to meet production requirements. Remote employees report high levels of satisfaction, increased productivity, self-sufficiency, and a better work-life balance.
However, distributed teams must deal with a lack of cohesion and trust; difficulty tracking completed work; time zones, and engagement and motivation. Little personal contact also makes it difficult to build trust, which in turn, can hamper communication and collaboration.
When organizations don’t invest in knowledge management, project teams have no data or input to plan projects. They waste time reinventing the wheel every time. As noted above, some industries such as government frequently change personnel with a department. Each time this happens, invaluable skills and expertise are lost.
If this list makes you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry! Instead, consider practical solutions. As Abraham Lincoln reminds us:
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing.’’
If you want to overcome these challenges and deliver better projects, it’s advisable to start with a simple project management approach that can grow with your team and the right software.
In the next sections, read more about common project management approaches and methods, essential leadership skills, and how to use Microsoft SharePoint for better project management results.
Chapter 4. How to Select a Project Management Methodology
A project methodology is a set of blueprints for your project, providing the team with clear direction on how to proceed. The PMI reports organizations who use a formal approach or a combination of several approaches are delivering more projects on time and within budget.
Below are some common methodologies to consider. Once the method or combination of methods is selected, it’s much easier to roll-out local guidance and templates to project teams.
5 Stages of Project Management – PMBOK
Although not a methodology, PMBOK is widely recognized as the standard for project management. The five phases are:
- Initiating: This phase often begins with a business case. This document outlines the objectives, purpose, and deliverables of the proposed project. Stakeholders are identified and preliminary requirements are documented.
- Planning: Following project approval, a plan is developed. The plan includes budget, scope, duration, deliverables and quality, communications, metrics, risks, and resources.
- Executing: The project is now ready to launch! The main activities associated with project execution are resource management, work tracking, team meetings, and reporting on progress.
- Monitoring/Controlling: Monitoring is conducted in parallel with project execution. Using KPIs and other metrics defined in the project plan, the project manager monitors progress and performance to avoid scope creep.
- Closing: Once the project is completed, the project manager should document lessons learned for future projects. It is also important to recognize and celebrate success. Finish the project by reassigning resources and updating project documentation.
The BrightWork Approach: Collaborative Project Management
At BrightWork, we have developed a collaborative approach to project management, which emphasizes teamwork and cooperation. The system is flexible and easily modified to support project maturity levels in any organization. To support this process, we advocate ‘Start-Evolve’. Start with the level of project management appropriate to your team; Evolve using constant feedback and team input. It helps to think of project management as a spectrum with varying degrees of process and tools required for different project types and team experience.
Collaborative project management incorporates project tracking and a five-step, flexible process.
- Project Tracking: Depending on the scale of your project and the experience of your team, you may wish to start with simple project tracking. High-level project tracking provides visibility into current projects underway, their status, and upcoming projects. Using this data, teams can decide how to improve current projects, and how to mature their project management approach.
- Step 1 – Initiate the Project: During this stage, you need to get the project approved, sponsored, and resourced before deciding on your project management approach. If you are using a project tool, set up a team site with relevant documentation and templates.
- Step 2 – Plan and Setup the Project: Next, plan the project with input from your team. This includes completing the Project Charter, assigning tasks, and notifying team members of their responsibilities.
- Step 3 – Work the Project: During this phase, the real work of the project takes place. Provide your team with direction on how to find, do, and update progress on their tasks. It’s also important to define team dynamics and ways of working.
- Step 4 – Track and Re-plan the Project: Projects rarely go according to plan so you need to include regular tracking and re-planning into the schedule. There are many ways to assess the status of a project, including dashboards in your project site, meetings with team members, and incoming change requests. If workloads or tasks change, let the relevant team members know. Finally, be sure to inform stakeholders of any significant changes to the original plan.
- Step 5 – Close the Project: Project teams often jump straight into a new project without closing the previous project! Missing this invaluable opportunity to review and learn makes it more difficult to improve team and project performance in the long-term. Start with surveys and meetings to gather input from the team. Document your findings in a central location anyone can use when planning future projects.
Developed in 1989 and used extensively by the UK government, PRINCE2 is a process-driven approach with a focus on business justification and a defined structure for teams. The methodology consists of 7 Principles, 7 Themes, and 7 Processes to ensure that projects are fully planned and controlled from the outset.
The Waterfall methodology was created in the 1970s and follows a sequential approach to project management. The project is divided into a series of processes with each stage beginning only when the previous stage is finished. Waterfall typically involves requirement analysis; design; implementation; testing; installation and maintenance. Customers are often not involved in the process between requirements analysis and final delivery. Waterfall is typically viewed as inflexible and slow to adapt to new technologies. Customer requirements can change over the course of the project, which can lead to issues with the delivered product.
Focusing on iterative cycles and team collaboration, Agile methods and practices for software development emerged in 2001. Agile projects are based on sprints of work, for example, two weeks, with defined durations and expected deliverables. Agile allows teams to start quickly and remain flexible in response to customer input, reducing re-work.
Scrum is associated with software development and Agile project management. A lightweight process, Scrum focuses on 30-day sprints to deliver priority tasks and requirements. Scrum encourages increased collaboration between team members and the project customer.
Hybrid models, often mixing Waterfall and Agile, are becoming increasingly popular. Combining the best elements of two methods, a hybrid model allows organizations to implement the right approach for the project. Waterfall techniques such as the Work Breakdown Structure provide a ‘macro’ or complete view of the project. Execution is delivered using Agile, creating a ‘micro’ view of tasks.
Kanban, a Japanese word for “a card you can see”, is a visual method for managing tasks in an Agile manner. Typically, teams use four cards (To-do, in progress, review, done) on a board, moving cards as work progresses. Kanban also helps teams quickly identify resource over-allocation and blockers.
Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook
Learn more about collaborative project management processes and leadership
Chapter 5. Essential Project Leadership Skills
The first step towards leadership is identifying your own style and how this influences your performance. Based on research conducted by Daniel Goleman, leadership styles are often categorized into the following six types:
The pacesetting leader looks for excellence, self-direction, and quick results.
An authoritative leader unites the team behind a common vision, allowing individual team members to decide how to achieve these goals.
The affiliative leader creates emotional bonds and a sense of trust amongst the team.
The coaching leader develops individual for the future by encouraging them to focus on their personal strengths.
The coercive leader looks for instant compliance, especially during a crisis.
The democratic leader uses consensus and participation to help the team develop a sense of ownership during the project.
Each of these leadership styles is suited to particular situations and different teams, so you will need to cultivate elements from each style for effective leadership.
Project managers spend up to 90% of their time on communication-related activities, ranging from in-person meetings and emails to instant messaging and conference calls. Communication affects every element of your project from team dynamics to task delivery, stakeholder engagement, and end-user adoption.
Conflict is an unavoidable presence in our personal and professional lives. As noted in PMBOK, managing conflict is a major challenged for project managers. To manage conflict, you should establish acceptable team behaviors to reduce tensions and disagreements within the team. You will likely also need to tackle conflict more directly as it occurs.
Failure is part of life, and projects are no exception. Often, the fear of failure limits our appetite for risk and experimentation. However, failure is necessary to success. Learning to ‘fall upwards’ – becoming resilient – will enable you to deal both with failure positively and become more tolerant towards the failures of others.
Coaching and Mentoring
Coaching and mentoring are helps team members to reach their full potential, improving overall performance. Coaching helps individuals develop the skills needed for their current role. Mentoring is focused on long-term personal and professional development.
Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to your ability to recognize your emotions and these emotions can impacts on the people around you. EI spans self-awareness self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Within project management, strong emotional intelligence will help you motivate the team, deal with conflict, communicate effectively, and make better decisions.
Gallup reports that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, with up to 24% actively disengaged. Project managers now face the difficult challenge of engaging team members to drive success. This includes developing the right team dynamic; managing remote team members; encouraging collaboration, and motivating the team.
So far, we have considered why project management is important, challenges to successful project management, common methods, and essential leadership skills. Now, let’s take a look at another key component of project management – your tools. In the next sections, I’ll explain why Microsoft SharePoint, a collaborative platform, is ideal for your projects.
Chapter 6. Next Steps
If this is the case, it’s a good idea to use a structured, yet flexible, development process. At BrightWork, we use the “REP” approach to personal change management and continuous learning.
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.
3 Phases of REP
1. Research Phase
The purpose of the research phase is to gather new knowledge and identify best practices to try. Start online in project management forums or by taking to a colleague.
You may also like to keep a REP journal in either electronic or paper form. Use the journal to note any new learnings or ideas you would like to try.
At the end of the “R” stage, look through the ideas in your REP Journal and pick a few to try.
You must then decide when, where, and how you are going to trial these ideas.
2. Execute Phase
During the “E” phase, put your new ideas into practice. Track your progress and findings in your notebook.
3. Post-Mortem Phase
The question to ask in the Post-Mortem stage is “Could I have performed better?”
It’s important to reflect on what worked well and what you need to improve in the future. Reflection and improvement will make it easier to adopt your new habits.
At the end of the Post-Mortem phase, take a break to enjoy your success and get ready to REP again. Go back to your Research phase and look at all the ideas you had. Pick one or two new ideas and repeat the cycle again.
You can do more than one REP at once, which means some REP cycles will overlap. However, you need to plan your REP carefully to complete each stage. Here is a sample REP schedule.
- January: Research phase on your first REP (e.g. Improve Time Management).
- February and March: Execute phase for your first REP (e.g. Improve Time Management).
- March: Research phase of your second REP (e.g. Collaborative Project Initiation).
- April: Post-Mortem phase for the first REP (e.g. Improve Time Management) and decide if and when you need to do another REP on this topic.
- April and May: Execute phase for your second REP (e.g. Collaborative Project Initiation).
- June: Post-Mortem phase for the second REP (e.g. Collaborative Project Initiation) and decide if and when you need to do another REP in this area.
- July: Take a well-deserved break from REP!
- August: Start the Research phase on your third REP (e.g. Improve Time Management – Part 2).
In addition to providing training and guidance to the team, it’s a good idea to review and update your project management practices.
- Project Health Check: If you need to build internal support for project management, figure out where you are now and where you need to be. Gather as much data as possible about past and current project, such as cost, progress, alignment with strategy, and user feedback. Evaluate these projects to build a case for project management.
- Project Management Approach: Next, investigate how best to manage your projects. Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook outlines a flexible five-step project management process and leadership advice to help you get up and running quickly.
- SharePoint Templates: Practice your new approach with your free SharePoint project management templates. The latest release of the template ships with a pre-configured project site, complete with a Task List mapped to the five-step collaborative management process outlined above.