Clever Thinking delivers Project Value early

Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork with another anecdote from my book, Overview of the PMBOK Guide. This one relates to costs, or indeed, getting the project value early from a project by a bit of clever thinking. A project manager in England was responsible for building a large supermarket, which would also sell cheap petrol to attract shoppers. The plan for the petrol station included the usual small shop for soft drinks, newspapers and so on.

The original plan was to build the supermarket and open it, a big project phase. Then, to build the petrol station, a small project phase. As most of the time and the value was in the supermarket, this meant getting value towards the end of the overall project. What they actually did, was simply reverse the phases. The petrol station was built first, and the customers started coming. They also got familiar with the main supermarket, because a selection of the products was also sold in the small shop.

Then, they built the supermarket. By the time it opened, it had already been a steady stream of customers who knew where it was and were familiar with the products. The moral there, is that the value in a project can be obtained much sooner, on occasion, by a bit of clever thinking. Thanks very much.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

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Flexible Scheduling with Virtual Training

Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork, with another short video about the benefits of virtual training. This time, we’re looking at the flexible scheduling and availability of the trainer, compared to on site events. For on site training, there is always an overhead of time, for travel and for the costs, and this is factored in, and it results in less flexibility, less scheduling flexibility for the trainer.

It can happen, that the trainer that you need, and the availability pattern, cannot meet your requirements, but by going for a virtual event, the availability and flexibility is increased. Training can be done, realistically, in shorter sessions, and the loss of time due to travel disappears completely. In summary, virtual training allows more flexibility in scheduling, and that gives another plus point when you’re setting up your event. Thank you.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

Scatterwork Guest: How do you see your project?

My name is Jonathan Norman from Gower Publishing,  a guest of Scatterwork GmbH, and I’d like to introduce you to a new platform we have developed for project and program managers, GpmFirst. In order to do so, I’ve taken a particular theme, which is the question of how do you see your project, and how do others see your project. I’ve chosen this subject for a couple of reasons. It introduces the premise that human psychology is a powerful influence in projects, and their success or failure, and it also underlines one of the key features of the new project community of practice that I mentioned.

Let’s just tackle these elements in order. In each case, I’ve used screen dumps from the community practice to illustrate my points. First of all, how does our psychology influence projects and their success or failure? Have a look at this image that was created by the wonderful writer Gareth Morgan, and is used in our book, “Images or Projects”. Imagine that this is a picture of your project, what do you see? A pig, but it isn’t as simple as that.

Have a look at each of the people around the edge of the image, let’s call them the stakeholders of your project. Put yourself in their shoes, and now look again at the pig, what does each of them see?

To the farmer, the pig represents his livelihood, a source of income. To the butcher, the pig represents a series of joints and cuts, bacon, ham, and so on. To the vet, the pig represents a potential patient. To the little girl, the pig represents the start of a nursery story, you get the point.

The point I’m trying to make is that you need to put yourself in the shoes of your stakeholders and ask yourself, how do they see my project, do they see it differently from the way I see it? What implications does this have on how I should communicate with them, or manage my project?

Once you understand the importance of perception, you’ll understand the idea of a playlist, which is a feature in the platform, www.gpmfirst.com. Rather than simply presenting content in the site in the way that we, our moderator, or our expert authors think it should be presented, we’ve included a feature that allows you to add any elements of the site, chapter, books, user generated articles, videos, community discussion threads, and indeed external links into your end playlist, which you can commentate.

Think of it as your own personal scrapbook of how you see a given theme, or a problem, in project management. Once you’ve created your playlist, and here’s one I created earlier using chapters from our books around the theme of perception in projects, you can share it with others by social media or email, and it will become a part of the searchable content on the platform, so that other users can benefit from how you see projects, or an aspect of project management.

Thank you for listening. If how I see projects peaked your interest, than I hope you’ll take a moment to visit this site to explore the new platform, and to get a sense of how you might use it. I’ve included my contact details on this final slide, so if you’d like to know more, than just go to the website, or contact me directly by email. Thank you very much.

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Varied Participation increases impact

This is a short video from Scatterwork about varying participation in workshops and thereby getting an increase in the impact. A typical workshop has some business issue that needs to be resolved as well as possible and as quickly as possible so we bring together the right people who have the know-how, the context, the experience and so forth and they work on it. We hope that they will evolve a solution.

The people that we bring, if the issue is either local or the people locally have the skills we need, then we sit together. If the issue involves people that are further away, then there is an unavoidable delay in bringing people to a meeting and those people lose business time by traveling. But, we have to decide if that’s worth it. If we have a really big issue, we might say we need people from a much wider background. Again, that’s a conference and it takes longer to organize and it also costs more.

Other reasons that we bring people to this meeting might be team building. For example, those who are going to be involved in the implementation of the solution and we might bring stakeholders in as well so that they see what is emerging and again, they will support us as things go ahead.

In Scatterwork, we specialize in virtual workshops so that means providing the structure, the direction, the experience to make sure that we can hold a workshop but do it though the internet. By doing that, we can have a much wider variety of people involved and without much of the lead time delay that we would have if we were holding a physical meeting and certainly much more cost effective.

Why is it worth doing this? Let’s just say that a typical person has a 100 live contacts and that each of those 100 live contacts has 100 live contacts. Then we find ourselves in a situation that the linkage brings in 10,000 contacts so we have a much, much greater access to insight when we bring in more people. That’s the suggestion is that we use virtual workshops for an appropriate, and this always allows us to do it faster than if we’re involving travel and it allows us to bring in a much greater variety of people. By doing that, we leverage from the situation.

Thanks very much.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

Time Management

Hello this is Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork to introduce another little anecdote from my book, “Overview of the PMBOK Guide.” This one is to do with time management and the point is that we don’t usually need permission to use time. We can be late and we say, “We’re sorry.” For money, we have to ask permission in advance to sign it in principle. The story here is very short and I once worked in a company where long coffee breaks were normal. Nobody seemed to need permission. It just happened. Even if we were told to take shorter breaks, we could still have taken the usual long ones. If management demanded an explanation, we would excuse ourselves and probably do the same in the next day. In fact, we would probably say we were using the coffee break for a deep discussion.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

Quality Management

Hello, this is Deasún Ó Conchúir again from Scatterwork for another anecdote from the book Overview of the PMBOK Guide. The topic here is quality management. This time I have two stories. The first one is about the quality of management itself and then the second one is the quality of the project.

The first one. The project manager had a small team. He told them there would be a weekly meeting every Monday afternoon. The first week, everyone was present. The second week, the project manager knew he was going to arrive late and telephoned ahead to ask the meeting to start without him. The third week, he said he couldn’t attend and delegated the meeting chair to one of his team members. Unfortunately, he did not brief this person about everything and in any case the manager didn’t want to delegate. The fourth week, the manager did not come to the meeting and just told the team that he was unavoidably engaged. The point of this particular anecdote, which of course really happened, is that quality applies in projects, not just to the deliverable, but also to the style of management.

Now, I have a second little anecdote here to do with quality in projects. I once worked in a computer factory which made standard models. As the orders came in from different countries which needed different keyboard layouts, the manufactured items were taken apart and reassembled with the right keyboard so the work that had been done was being wasted and then replaced by more work. It’s hard to find the value of add on in this process and I hope that such practices have long since gone.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% discount on their first workshop.

Why use Project Management?

Hello this is Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork, and I’m here to bring you an anecdote from my book, Overview of the PMBOK guide.

Once upon a time, as all good children’s stories begin, there was a very important project. It was so important that the advisers convinced this local company with headquarters in Europe to start implementing it immediately. After about 12 million Euro had been spent, the team thought it would be a good idea to develop a specification. To do this, a project team was put together, and there was a large international kick-off meeting, which lasted a few days. Everybody had a very good time.

After some development work the users in North America were contacted to help with the testing. An enterprising manager there suggested that the project should be executed near to the users to improve communication with them. He said he was available to take over the management of the development work, and would be happy with the development manager’s salary. It’s possible this is why he suggested transferring the project to his location.

Instead of transferring the project team from Europe to North America it was disbanded. Except for the European-based project manager the work was passed completely to a new implementation team in North America. The new team grew to over 50 people and worked hard for about two years. They found it difficult to make good progress, because of the poorly defined decision making processes.

There was a senior North American manager, but he was not invited onto the project steering committee, because his line staff were not directly involved. His organization did however, provide office space for the project team. After every project review meeting he asked what was happening.

Sometimes he didn’t agree with the decisions, so he contacted his longtime senior colleague in Europe to get support for changes. This colleague then sent out new instructions, which often reached the team weeks after the original decision. This meant that some work done in the meantime was wasted. Because the development manager had such a big team he earned a really good salary.

During this time the company headquarters in Europe bought a competitor, and their managers became new project stakeholders. This was because they were expected to use the output of the project. Even so they were not convinced, and they said they wouldn’t use it. This made the company rethink the project and send in the auditors. They found out that the value of the deliverable minus the cost of development was nearly zero. The project was then terminated, and the project manager was fired, although he was paid his salary for some months without having to come to work. The total cost of the project was about $100 million Euro.

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How can Scatterwork add value for you?

The Penknife and Book? They are prizes for two lucky correspondents, to be drawn on 31 March.

If you have not signed up for the Scatterwork Virtual Project Newsletter, you can do so here.

A classic way to reduce risks: delegate!

Miniature Swiss Army Knife
Miniature Swiss Army Knife

In any business, development is achieved by progressively delegating more and more. The more tasks that are reliably delegated, the greater the business capacity.

Delegating is a key element of how the economy works and brings many advantages:

  • You can get more done with the same time input from yourself
  • By delegating to experts, they can do the work more efficiently and with less risks than you can, so the results are better
  • Experts are repeatedly doing the same thing, so develop less complicated (=cheaper and faster) ways of working
  • You can then focus on something else which has even more impact.

Delegate the sharing of know-how using workshops, mentoring and training.

You can of course spend a lot of time with your staff to help them plan and implement projects, however you would probably be happier if you could simply wave a magic wand and see your team perform.

OR you can delegate this support activity to experts, which brings all the benefits mentioned above:

  • You can get more done and faster, without having to go through learning cycles.
  • The knowledge transfer to your team is better, less risky, less costly and takes less of your time.
  • You can then focus on something else which has even more impact (Q: where have I already heard that?)

Results-oriented Project Workshops achieve your Business Objectives

Training can be an efficient way to share know-how, but is inherently slow because the participants apply what they learn AFTER the event.

Workshops are results-oriented, at which there is sufficient sharing of know-how to support IMMEDIATE implementation during the results-oriented Virtual Workshops, giving you immediate benefits:

  • The business’ benefits immediately from the improvements
  • The quality of the work benefits from the experience of experts
  • You increase what you can achieve with the same effort
  • Your reputation as an delegator is improved.

How can we add value for you?

Zürich zu Fuss durch Stadt und Land – the latest beautifully handpainted guide for walkers from Hannes Stricker.

How best to harness the global project experience of Scatterwork is for you to decide.  

Scatterwork specialises in:

  • Project Management and Virtual Teams
  • Online Workshops and Training
  • Project mentoring, online or onsite, in English, French or German.

We just need to know what area we can help you to start off.  Please tell us which of the following “Virtual Workshops for Virtual Teams” would be most useful to you, by filling out this short survey, which refers to the following workshop options (or just contact us by any of the usual methods):

  • Manage your Project Risks! Identify and address current project risks.
  • Develop your Virtual Team’s Operational Guidelines: Great for team building and cooperation.
  • Kick-Off your Virtual Project: When the team must deliver immediately without the luxury of meeting face to face!
  • Plan your Team Communications: Helps target the information flow and avoid costly communication delays.
  • Manage your Project Phase End: Critical control point which requires a lot of organising and follow through.
  • Re-Launch a Troubled Project: Get your project moving again, e.g. after a change of leadership or serious slipping.

Your inputs are greatly appreciated, thank you!

The Penknife and Book? They are prizes for two lucky correspondents, to be drawn on 31 March.

If you have not signed up for the Scatterwork Virtual Project Newsletter, you can do so here.

Project Manager Tips – Communication

Project Manager Skills

Business Team
Image courtesey of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I read project manager job descriptions, they often seem to be written for superman or superwoman, as they require skills in a huge range of areas.  Typically they include leadership, self-starter, analyst, motivator, not to mention negotiator,  as well as coach and team builder and so on.

Is it really possible to find all these qualities in one person?  Even if the individual is very competent, every person has their own preferences and style and cannot possibly be an expert in everything.  Somebody who is analytical and great for planning may be not so good at negotiation, or the competent leader may not be so good at the detailed work.

The conclusion is that these shopping lists of project manager qualities may all be desirable, but that they will not all be provided by the project manager. Here are some project manager tips you might find helpful in both building and learning these skills.

A Project Manager Priority – Communication

So if the project manager is unlikely to be master of all possible skills, which ones are really essential, assuming that the other skills will be present in other members of the project team?  High on my list would be Communication skills.

One way of looking at project management is that the leader (also known as “project manager”) takes the role of communicating the vision of the completed project to the team members and other stakeholders, even before the vision is realised.

This is a challenge.  Even when something exists and is generally accepted as useful, it can still be very difficult to get everybody to work towards the vision.  There is an old story where the bricklayer was asked what he was doing, to which he replied “building a wall”, while his colleague answered “building a cathedral”.  They were doing the same work, but one lacked the vision.

Team Motivation also depends on understanding the relevance of what has to be done and deciding that it is worth the effort.  Again, communication is a key project manager skill, so that the team understand not only what has to be be done but why it is important.

This leads me to Communication as one of the most important skills for the project manager.  Good communication can be used to share bothe project vision and how to achieve it.

Communication can take many forms

Active Listening
Image courtesey of Marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In it’s most direct form, communication is simply talking but in our modern world, communication can take a very wide range of forms.  Some of them are particularly useful for project managers, such as:

  • Gantt Chart
  • Schedule Network
  • Earned Value
  • Resource Levelling etc.

Other communication methods are not restricted to project management, but are certainly also useful:

  • Social Networks
  • Live Presentations
  • Reports
  • Photographs
  • Telephone
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Automatic translators
  • Meeting Minutes
  • eMail and so on.

One of my favourites for the project manager is “Active Listening“, where the listener stops doing everything else and pays attention to the speaker.  This is one of the most powerful Project Manager tools, both to get the work done and to build up team spirit and mutual respect.

If the listener multi-tasks (looks at the ticker on the computer screen, reads mobile phone messages, flicks through brochures or reading material and so on), while pretending to listen, the reaction of the colleague is likely to be negative.

The opposite scenarios is far more conducive to the sharing of motivation and vision which a project manager needs. Simply by agreeing within a project team that meetings will take place without multitasking is one of the easiest ways to improve project team communication.

 

 

 

 

 

Breakout groups by language

Hello, this is Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork. I’m here to bring you another short video about one of the benefits of virtual training. We’re talking here about replicating the traditional classroom environment with the benefit of the internet.

One of the benefits is that participants can be put into groups for discussion, or for working on activities, or developing ideas according to language. Normally in a traditional live environment, the training is carried out in one language. With the internet interface, we can group people. For example, difference offices of the same company that are sharing the same training. Though this is really good because when people are discussing, they much prefer to speak their first language and although they may well be able to interact and understand and so forth, if a presentation in, for example, in English, it does improve the discussion if people are also able to work in their own language.

So that’s a very unique advantage of the virtual training environment. Now we’ve put together a list of these benefits in a survey and we invite you to help us write these benefits by going onto the link associated with this video and giving us the benefit of your thoughts. Also, if you’ve had any specific questions that you’d like answered before going ahead with virtual training from Scatterwork, then please make sure that we’re aware of what your queries are. Thanks very much. We look forward to hearing from you.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.