There’s Never Been a More Exciting Time in Project Management

COVID-19 has brought about a lot of change; however, some things remain constant. In a more competitive environment, with constant change and fewer available resources, the skill of project management is now as important as ever. Projects must be more successful and deliver on their promised value to help organizations realize their strategies.One of the unique benefits of employing good project management is innovation, which increases projects’ value.

“80 percent of organizations that encourage project leaders to expand their role to deliver greater value have invested in at least one innovative idea in the past five years—compared to just 54 percent of organizations who don’t. This innovation push will continue in the years to come: Three in four project leaders say their organizations will invest more to promote project management innovation over the next 10 years.”

“The Innovation Imperative” PMI®, 2020.

This means that there has never been a better time to add project management as a skill or consider a project management career for today’s workforce. It is also essential for organizations to invest in their employees to gain these new skills. And to meet the challenges, this training and investment need to start now.

Not a single skill, project management is a collection of skills, both technical and soft, which enable practitioners to increase project success. Since 2008, various studies by the Project Management Institute and others have shown there is a growing shortage of project managers to keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for projects. It is not a role that is easy to achieve upon graduation. The path to a primary degree in project management is a minimum of four years. PMP® certification is a 3-6 year (or more) journey. Therefore, we can estimate that the time to become a proficient practitioner is somewhere between 6 and 10 years.

While the shortage of project managers is in progress, project management standards have not stood still. When first published in 1996, the Project Management Body of Knowledge – First Edition was fewer than 200 pages. In under 24 years, the Project Management Body of Knowledge – Sixth Edition (PMBOK® Guide) and the accompanying Agile Practice Guide are over 800 pages. In other words, project management knowledge has quadrupled!

But unfortunately, there has not been a similar shift in education and training. It still takes four years to earn a basic degree in project management and 3-6 years to achieve certification. Similarly, extended studies programs have tended to hover around 35 hours as this meets the educational need for certification. Education and training programs are now attempting to cram four times the knowledge in the same amount of time. While this may appear to be added value, research shows the average student’s retention is likely to wane with force-fed knowledge.

There is a better approach. Start simple, start with the basics. Provide aspiring and new project managers with just enough knowledge to be successful in their first projects. Continue to build on that knowledge in manageable “chunks” rather than in courses that attempt to cover all project management in a few hours. As their knowledge grows, offer them opportunities to work with and shadow more senior, experienced professionals. But one thing is most important – get started on this now to secure your future in the workforce or the success of your organization.

The Author

Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP, CCP is the founder and managing partner of PPC Group, LLC, a business specializing in helping aspiring, new, and accidental project managers launch their careers. PPC Group’s books and courses are a perfect starting point, endorsed by project management professionals worldwide. Scatterwork is a perfect complement to them, offering advanced training and workshops and the opportunity to work side-by-side with more senior project managers.

Ray can be reached at, and PPC Group’s site can be found at

Limited Special Offer

One complemntary copy of each of Ray’s books is available to the first applicants from any European country (closing date 28 Feb 2021). Write now to, together with your postal address and professional contact details. indicating which one of the following you request (only one book per person):

  • Accidental Project Manager – Zero to Hero in 7 Days
  • Accidental Agile Project Manager – Zero to Hero in 7 Iterations
  • Risk Assessment Framework – Successfully Navigating Uncertainty.

Scatterwork – the host organisation

As your partner of choice, Scatterwork is a catalyst enabling individuals and organisations to achieve excellence through creative project & process solutions in challenging environments.

To learn more about how we can help you to implement Project Solutions for your technical and business challenges, please call Dr Ó Conchúir on +41 79 692 4735 or email him at


Make scheduling teleconferences easier

Many projects work across time zones so misunderstandings about time causes delays, especially in teleconferences.

Informal methods to set the meeting times take more effort than they are worth. It’s better to use meeting time tools, which depend on everybody keeping their calendar up-to-date. These tools read your calendar and convert the times to your time zone.

Here are a couple of tools which compare calendars, depending on what operating system you are using:

For Apple:
For Gmail:

Here are some more where instead of comparing calendars they look at your calendar and then offer your availability and the other person selected by hand:


Our favorite here is doodle. This is a free application, you can use it immediately, you don’t have to sign up and it converts for time zones, is suitable for team use and it’s accessible through a browser.

It’s also intuitive. But as with most tools: you have to do a little bit of work yourself:

When you have set up the meetings, it makes sense to then send out invitations to go into everybody’s calendars to make quite sure they got them. But it certainly does all the “donkey work”, all the hard work of converting time zones automatically for you.

So if you have any comments or queries about project issues, please do connect with me.

Thanks very much.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.


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Everyone has to do everything in virtual teams

“Everyone has to do everything in virtual teams” – a short video from

Here is a project scenario: the team do all the technical work they have been assigned,they ask for the constraints and requirements and then they focus on the work. In the same scenario, the project manager specifies the technical work and delegates it to the team and manages the external communications, for example with stakeholders, and watches for issues and interacts if something seems to be going wrong. But this can be a particular problem for a Virtual Team.

If for example the work was not specified or understood correctly and the other person is not nearby, this may not be noticed. Or the project manager is not aware of some issue at another location; they ask for work which, for some reason, genuinely can’t be done.Or maybe the project manager cannot act due to overload or illness, and nobody notices because they’re not in the same place.

So what is a good solution?

Simply stated, “everyone has to do everything in virtual teams” but maybe we could fine-tune that and say “everyone needs to take joint responsibility in virtual teams” for watching the deliverable of the entire team or maybe we could fine-tune that again and say that “The individuals within the team need to take joint responsibility, much more than they would in a co-located team”.

If this does not happen and something goes wrong, nobody from another site notices and then the project suffers. So if you have any project issues you would like to discuss, please connect with me through LinkedIn or any of the other methods.

Thank you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.


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Can virtual teams do agile project management?

“Can virtual teams do agile project management?” This is a short video from

Let’s remind ourselves what agile project management is, using this description from MindTools: It’s built around a flexible approach; team members work in short bursts on small but functioning releases and then they test the releases against the customer needs, instead of aiming at some big deliverable right at the end of the project.

Our question is: “For virtual teams, what does this mean?”.

One of the requirements is team cohesion and one of the ways we can help this is to capitalize on face-to-face visits when the occasion arises. For example, a customer visit may bring people together, where a visit just for the sake of meeting may not be justifiable.

Another requirement of agile project management is trust and in the virtual team environment this can be helped by sponsors showing trust by visiting the team. This requires much less travel than if the entire team moves around it sends a message: look guys – you are important; we think so because we are taking the time out to visit you.

Another of the many requirements is informal communication: agile project management requires a lot of come and go of information and sometimes this is informal, but then we supplement it with documentation,particularly when we have a virtual team.

We capitalize, we summarize the status that was arrived at in one location so everybody gets the message. One of the ways of making sure this happens is to have visible process data, so instead of the various flip chart type presentations that are familiar in the agile environment, we need some sort of application that gives the same information but is accessible, usually through a browser.

So if you want to discuss these or other project issues, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to talking to you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Online Training for Project Management & Team Building.


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Make your working hours work for you

“Make your working hours work for you” – a short video from

The challenge is what to do if you have different working hours in different places. A simple way of addressing this is to adjust working hours. Either one side works late or the other side works early. In extreme cases people shift their entire living pattern for a few weeks to work on a project where the center of activity is somewhere else.

Long term that’s not easy to do so the suggestion is that we should learn from hospitals because they also have this situation. The nurses are there during the night, then they go away early in the morning and they hand over to their colleagues.

So how do they do it? They hand over the work with a handshake process and they document the status at the close of work.

These are two very simple steps which means that the people who are coming on are sure to pick up in the right place. So if you want to discuss this or any other project issues, please contact me through LinkedIn or any of the other methods.

Thank you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.


Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

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Time zone Tips for Long Distance Business Relationships

This video from Scatterwork is about time zone tips for long distance business relationships. There are many complicating factors: time zones and also cultures which we cover in a separate video.

Regarding time zones, one of the things that we can do is to set Ground Rules. For example, if we’re in Europe and we have colleagues in Asia and we have meetings in the middle of our day, it will be their evening, maybe when they are trying to go home at the end of the day. It makes sense to agree what each other’s time limits are. The same applies if you’re in the Americas and you’re dealing with Europe.

So work out what the windows of overlap are which are acceptable to all the parties and stick to them.

Another tip is to know each other’s schedules, for example people have different starting and finishing times depending where they are and the local habits.

One example is that in Spain lunch doesn’t usually start until three in the afternoon. The further north you go in Europe, the earlier it is. In Norway for example you might get your lunch at 11 o’clock and they’re actually in the same time zone. So so if we know each other’s schedules it makes it easier to match people’s comfort.

Another thing we can do is minimize the need for time overlap. If we have to share data maybe we could do this through a shared document or a wiki, so that we don’t have to be online at the same time. That means that the time that we are on line is used for things that can only be done face-to-face or at least on online together.

And that brings us to the fourth tip: get the best out of every meeting. When we have meetings online, let’s not waste them by turning up late, microphones that don’t work, chat that’s off topic and so on. It really is hard for people to get time to work together so probably time together should be respected.

So if you want to discuss these or any of your own project issues, please connect with me. I look forward to talking to you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.


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Strategies for Virtual Team Building – Part 1

Hello, this series of short videos is based on the keynote presentation to the PMI Serbia Project Society Conference, Belgrade 2015. It’s broken into five sections each of them corresponding to one video and as presenter I’m a project consultant who in fact have been involved in projects for effectively my entire career.

Project teams don’t usually share a single location but they operate virtually, at least in part. The more widespread the team members are, the greater the cultural and environmental diversity. This means that virtual team building is very challenging and the strategies which were used a generation ago need to be reviewed and developed so in this presentation we examine some strategies based on experience of working in this environment.

Let’s start with collocated teams, that’s teams where everybody is in the same place. This is required in some situations, for example military or emergency services and when people have to work very focused together then they can work in one place. However that’s not always possible because the skills or the resources e.g. the technical resources may be scattered and indeed these days they might be global. These days a lot of teams are increasingly dispersed and not only are they virtual but they are international and global so all of those features make them a little bit harder to work with.

Now there are benefits of working on this basis; one of them is a choice of staff. For example you may want people with a different language for a help desk during your night but it might be during the day of another person. When people are working virtually you don’t have to provide them with a desk with some employers may take responsibility for the cost of the access.

People don’t need to travel, for example visas and getting visas and traveling and so on can take a lot of effort and this can be avoided by involving people on a virtual basis and if people are ready they can even start there and then.

People who work on their own tend to be very committed. This has been shown by lots of studies and may be surprising – you would think if people were left to work on their own they would drop out but once they got involved in the work then the results can indeed be better than if they work together in one place. Before moving on to virtual team building itself it’s a good idea to just remind ourselves how far the technology has come.

For example there is a speedy shop available from the railways in Switzerland where people can choose their groceries through their mobile phone and then it’s placed in a locker and when they turn up, they show a bar code on their phone and the locker opens. The goods have already been paid for through their card.

This has been introduced on a pilot basis without any great training of the general population – people just know how to do it. So if you wish to discuss any of your own project issues with me please to connect through all the usual methods, either through our website at, an email, phone call or connecting via LinkedIn.

I look forward to hearing from you, thank you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.


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Avoid Virtual Team Mix-Ups

Hello! This short video from Scatterwork is about avoiding virtual team mix-ups.

I’m talking about the sort of situation where the team is carrying out some work, maybe a project, and the participants are not all together all the time; in other words some of the work is carried out virtually.

And any work requires coordination so not only does the work need to be done but we need to communicate:

“OK I’ve finished this bit; you can do the next bit now”.

And if the communication is poor or if the communication is wrong or if it’s misunderstood or if indeed the thing that should have been delivered isn’t delivered – all of those situations lead to people at the other end getting annoyed or upset because they’re not getting what they expect.

My personal experience is that if there is communication, for example a telephone line between participants in different parts of the world, and it doesn’t work, the person who speaks thinks that the person at the other end is the problem even though the problem maybe somewhere in between.

Instinctively we think if we talk to somebody “well if they don’t understand and I’m talking properly then it’s their fault”.

But it could be the system in between. So we can get into really mixed up situations that can be very hard to get out of.

So the question is “what’s a possible approach to solving that” and here we’re talking about personal skills. They’re often called soft skills but I could mention many of them.

One of them is active listening, for example,

“tell me exactly what the issue is and I’m going to listen and interact with you until I understand what you’re talking about. I’m not going to do emails at the same time or be doing some of the work in the background you looking over your shoulder. I’m just going to listen.”

Another skill is presentation skills.

I’ve seen so many projects where you get spaghetti type PowerPoint slides saying we’re doing this, that and the
other thing.

And they might be visually wonderful but it’s very, very hard to understand what they doing so another’s personal skill is to sift out what the real issues are and to present them very, very clearly in some sort of graphical format.

And other personal or inter-personal skill is negotiation because if we discovered that what we wanted and what the person gets is not the same then we have to work out “what are we going to do now?” and negotiation is it what happens.

People say “could we do this or could we do that?” and so on. So competence in negotiation is also very useful in that sort of situation.

And there are others, so the summary is to avoid mix-ups in virtual teams, it can make sense to invest in personal skills of the individuals involved and of course then they get the benefit of having those skills for use elsewhere in life as well so it’s something that everyone wins from.

Thanks very much!

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.


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Charter your way to success!

Hello, this is another short video from Scatterwork where we ask: “Is your project charter the key to virtual project success?”

I always say, when you’re asked to do a project: do this, do that, meet this constraint for that budget and so forth, the first thing we need to do is not to start, but it is to check that we understand what is being asked.

It may be that the person asking has a very clear idea and we misunderstand it or it could be that they themselves haven’t a very clear idea so it makes a lot of sense to check and the best way I know of doing this is called a charter where we write it all down and say “hey, is that what you meant ?”

So in the charter, which is not the plan, we include for example what they’re expecting, constraints, we must do this, we must not do that, this is the budget, this is why I’m doing it and so forth and it should be maybe a page or two.

Now, this is true for any project.The first step we check that they say “that’s what we want” and then we can go away and look at it as project managers and say yes, we can certainly do that or maybe no, but here’s another one that would come close.

In the virtual world, I can’t see how a project can deliver unless there is at least agreement on this level. So it’s a very short document a couple of pages it can be put together by using a type of application that allows several people to write at once; things like your Google Documents for example. Preparing a document where everyone’s concerns are there means that we know what our starting point is.

So I would answer the question and say yes, the project charter is the key to virtual project success.

Thank you.
Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.


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Scatterwork Guest: Beware of Project Bias

Project Bias or how our psychology undermines perceptions and decisions.

Projects are meant to be diligent,almost scientific undertakings with carefully planned business cases, weighted risks and detailed procedures and governance. But the reality is that everyone is biased and these biases affect the way we see the world, the assumptions we make and the basis for all our decisions.

The problem with any bias is when it’s unconscious. If you know for example that you tend to be over-optimistic in your view of the future,then you can make sure other people know this about you and you can take particular care to make sure you have mitigated any risks may cause.

My name is Jonathan Norman. I’m the publisher at Gower Publishing and I’m going to share a couple of striking examples of project bias and offer you some advice on how to deal with it.

We all like to believe what we want to believe and as a result we all fall foul of confirmation bias from time to time.

Arguably project managers are more prone than others because there’s so much pressure to provide hard evidence when he you’re making a business case or advocating a change.

Essentially confirmation biases are inclination to put unjustified weight behind selected pieces of evidence because they support or confirm some aspect of our Project. I suspect that illusion of control is the most challenging bias for project managers not least because people expect us to be in control.

But don’t ever be tempted to assume that because you’re planning your schedule map out the way a project will run that you control the project.

Remember, if you ever find your risk riding superhuman power to your ability to deliver outcomes the benefits associated with your project and only be realized by the users and if you think you can control customers, employees or other users,then clearly you are deluding yourself.

In many situations including projects, people resist change and this is a really compelling reason to do it, most often because we believe the changes will make things worse.

Look at the recent FIFA elections and the re-election Sepp Blatter. How many of those voting were more concerned about what the absence of Sepp might do to the continued commercial success of FIFA and investment in football in their country than they were by the prospect of a fifth term with Sepp.

I’m not telling you about project bias to trip you up or make you feel bad about yourself or other people but here are five simple tactics you can use to mitigate the problem.

The first thing is to recognize that project bias happens. Everyone is subject to bias.

Secondly, try to keep things simple. Bias is far more apparent in situations where decisions and solutions are transparent.

Thirdly, ask yourself what happens if i’m wrong or if we are wrong. Just because something is unlikely doesn’t mean it will never happen. Make sure you have a backup plan.

Fourthly, check the sources of your information. Risk registers and benefit maps can look imposing and authoritative but to what extent are they based simply on someone’s perception as opposed to actual research.

Finally be suspicious of your bias, particularly if it is pronounced and particularly if you’re dealing with a genuinely new situation but it’s hard to categorize on the basis of prior knowledge. But don’t discount you bias out of hand. Biases are developed from our experience of prior events so they can be very useful radar systems if something is going wrong.

Thank you for listening.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.


Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

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