James Bauly recommends Scatterwork’s insightful experience

Boltić: Hi James, I understand that at the time you met Scatterwork you were working on a demanding project of setting up a new business model in your organization.

So could you describe in more detail the specific approach of Scatterwork to help you deal with the challenges, such as setting up the team and managing interdependencies and resource planning?

Bauly: Sure, with pleasure, thank you. So when we started the training program with Scatterwork what we found was that we were coming at it really as a sales and marketing team with very limited experience at that time in project management.

So what we really needed was “project management training 101”, really, really for beginners.

For a lot of the people in the team, you know, this was really their first experience of structured project management.

What was really good was the way that the training team helped us just take those first baby steps and understand the basics around project management and what are some of the key success factors, all the way at the beginning starting with:

● how do you set up a project team, both in terms of talking to the people and bringing them into the team
● but also capturing in the PMP process how you document that and how you set that on paper.

Yeah, we did that with some live exercises and also some basic but quite fun theoretical discussions as well.

Boltić: That’s great. And what was specific, is there anything unique about the experience of working with Scatterwork that helped you understand the specific importance of project ownership and how to develop a focus in the mandated project team?

Bauly: Yeah, I think what was really appreciated actually again in the context that we were in, was having a trainer from Scatterwork who clearly has deep experience and a long history in Project training.

And I think some of the most valuable lessons were based on the trainer sharing of his own personal experiences over the years and putting those experiences forward as mini-case studies, to demonstrate what can go wrong if you don’t lock in the senior sponsorship in the mandates.

You know what are some of the things that can derail a project if you don’t do that properly

Yeah, as much as the as the actual simulated trainings in the workshop I think that the personal anecdotes and experience of the trainer we’re really insightful and I think that sums up the lasting memory that I have from the training.

Boltić: Thank you so much James for doing this with us, thank you.

Bauly: With pleasure, thank you!

Guest:James Bauly, Head of Personalized Nutrition at DSM Nutritional Products Ltd, Kaiseraugst, Switzerland

Interviewed by: Dr Zorana Boltić, Aim Professional, Project Management and Lean Six Sigma Consultant and Trainer on behalf of Scatterwork GmbH

Rob Winwood: Project Skills for use straight away

Boltić: What was the specific experience you had with Scatterwork and what was the project that time?

Winwood: Sure, no problem at all. I used to work with a company DSM Nutritional Products who were based in Kaiseraugst in Switzerland. And they decided that they had a need for specific project management training, which they certainly did, and decided to call on an expert to do that.

The problem was what they didn’t want was a just a manual and a boring list of to do’s. They wanted something that would actually apply to the situation that we were working at the time and then practical and could be used afterwards. And that’s why Scatterwork was chosen.

Boltić: So in specific, how how did Scatterwork meet those expectations and what were the specific benefits that you can draw out of this training?

Winwood: OK, we had a mixed group of I suppose around about 20 people who were involved in the training which took place over three days in total.

And the key thing was that you could take away something you could use straight away from that process, bearing in mind the people who attended the training hadn’t had any formal project management training at all.

I don’t think anybody had that particular career, so it was new to all of us but it was particularly important that we could then take what we’d learnt and use it straight away. And I guess what was key in the training itself was that we used real examples throughout.

It wasn’t example stuff; it was real things that happen in our day to day work.

Boltić: So are there any additional impressions that you would like to share about Scatterwork and working with them?

Winwood: Yeah, when we did the training to be absolutely honest with you I had absolutely no idea what to expect and I don’t think anybody else did. It always helps to have an empathetic trainer, somebody who is enthusiastic and friendly but firm when he needed to be and we certainly got that with Scatterwork and I think we all appreciated that.

And it was done in detail, it was done in a logical fashion so everybody could follow without knowing any of the background whatsoever. So unusually in that, that you can take something from ground zero and basically leave the training at the end of the time with something you can practically use straight away.

Boltić: Thank you so much for doing this interview with us.

Winwood: You’re very welcome.

Guest: Dr Rob Winwood, Proprietor at Winwood Bioscience, Helions Bumpstead, Haverhill, UK

Interviewed by: Dr Zorana Boltić, Aim Professional, Project Management and Lean Six Sigma Consultant and Trainer on behalf of Scatterwork GmbH

Managing your remote team

This video is about team management.

Of course there are a lot of things that you can do in connection with management, but maybe one of the most important ones is to work out how you’re going to communicate.

Some people prefer to write to each other in text. Some people prefer to telephone. Some people work asynchronously. Others prefer to talk to somebody at the same time and so on.

Of course when you have a remote team, people are living in different cultures and have different styles. Maybe in one culture people talk a bit more and another one a bit less.

Unless these things come out into the open early on, it can make the communication very difficult.

One way to get around this is to ask your team to put together some rules for communication:

If you have something urgent, do you do it by text or do you do it by telephone?;Or do you do it by email? And how quickly do you expect a response?

Try to be detailed in your plan, because your normal in your culture is most likely different from the culture of the others, but you may not notice the difference.

If you write down the details of how you are going to communicate, you have better chances of working well together. You should end up with a table which has details for different types of communication: problem solving, reporting, communicating with each other, team building and so on.

Maybe it highlights a preferred way of communicating (eg talk in emergencies) and goes into some more detail about for which tools to use or which time of day is preferred

I had a manager once who said “Don’t talk to me before 9 a.m. I’m really very busy trying to work out what to do with the day.”

So all of those details need to be captured, not in too much detail but enough detail to record in a table and get agreement from your team.

Review this communication plan from time to time. Adjust it if over or under-documented? Just use a little more detail than would have been traditional when the team used to all sit in one room.

Thanks very much

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

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

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Starting a remote team

This is about starting your remote team. The very first thing we do is to draft the charter.

We then authorize it using the authority of the sponsor. This means that we have a fixed starting point for the project which is very important. If this us not done, people tend to go around in circles and the negotiations always take time.

The next thing that we do is to bring the team together online, to explain the charter to them and get their feedback from it.

Then we take everybody in the team and set up a matrix where we ask everybody to make a one-to-one call to all the other people in the team, to introduce themselves.

They can do things such as looking at their facebook pages showing photographs of their children, using Street View to show where they live and similar personal things, to get a feeling of who the other person is.

Then the first assignment of the team is to draft the team communication rules.

If the team cannot agree for example which application is used to set up team meetings or which application is used for writing notes, then you tend to loose a lot of time just moving from one to the other.

We then hold another meeting with the team to review these rules together. When agreed, we go back to the sponsor and say “We have agreed to these rules. Can we write these into the Charter?”

If you follow this sequence, you have some chance of the team starting up quickly and reasonably under control.

I wish you good luck, Thank you.

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

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

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The Benefits of a remote team

This video is about the benefits of having a remote team.

I am going to divide this article into two sections: Benefits for the team and the benefits for yourself.

The benefits for the remote team include that work that doesn’t need to be done physically close can be done by anybody, anywhere. For example, anything that we are doing will have information: when things are available, what they cost, and so forth. All that sort of thing can be done remotely.

Then we have the physical side:
We might be moving house or shifting things or going on holiday or whatever it is that we do, but the non-physical side of it can really be done from anywhere and that gives us extra flexibility. Because it is from anywhere, we have a wider variety of people we can call on so we probably get a better match. And then the fact that these people are really only interacting with us for the work means that we can take them for quite small chunks of work that would not be feasible if we were working on site.

It would not be worth people’s while to travel a distance and sit down and so on unless the work is quite big, but when they are going to interact remotely then they can have much shorter bursts of activity.

Then the benefit for ourselves is that if we want to, we can be quite direct and just use our time for the work. Of course we all want to be friendly and chat to people and so forth but if we’re working remotely there’s less need for us to get involved in long chats after the weekend and long coffee breaks So there you have it.

I think that there are benefits for holding remote teams and these are some from my own experience, thank you.

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

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

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It’s time to automate some of your meeting processes

The question is:

Where is the balance between work and personal interaction? Are you utilizing automated meeting processes?

What are your priorities at work?

Do you put in the best effort for your employer?

Or build a career even if everything you do doesn’t really suit everyone else?

Or enjoy human interaction?

Of course, we can have all of those but if we prioritize the wrong one, then we don’t get the best balance.

A colleague of mine used to say work is a lot of people busy enjoying human interaction and then they have some technical issues scattered around the edge.

So let’s work for efficiency and prioritize the human interaction where it’s really needed. Of course it’s needed but it doesn’t have to be embedded in every single interaction. Repetitive work can take far less effort by using the tools available and everyone will appreciate that.

So here’s an example for meetings:

Use Wiki documents, or documents where everyone can log in at once, so you can collect comments from participants during the meeting. Google Sheets is an example, but there are also mind maps where everyone can log in at once. Or drawing applications, where everyone can draw on the sheet at once, and so on.

That is far better than having a document that you type up and then send around as an attachment.

To select meeting times, it is far easier to use a poll which takes into account people’s time zones and say: here are some times; which of these suits you? And they just click and that’s it.

It is very very simple and it takes far less effort than phoning and emailing.

If you have for example to prepare the same documents every time, for example an End of Phase meeting for projects, then you can set up a workflow to remind you what to do.

This is much easier than pencil and paper because once its it setup, then you complete something and you click it and it says: this is the next action.

So let’s enjoy the work but don’t let it prevent you from making useful improvements in how the work is done.

By the way, don’t underestimate the need for training the rest of the team. Sometimes I’m surprised at how resistant people are to using new technology.

So if you have any project issues to discuss, please connect with me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

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Do you have usable intelligence?

Let’s look at data which is raw and has not been interpreted. Information is the conclusions drawn from data and then usable intelligence can be said to be the insights about the information. In the old days, most documents were physical, which meant the data couldn’t be accessed automatically.

For example, if somebody was working on a project, the information was on paper on their desk so you just couldn’t get at it. Even for your own work, the retrieval effort was so high that the value of the data was completely ignored.

So to extract usable intelligence requires a change of mindset. What type of intelligence is available? Provided you can access it, things like spreadsheets, purchasing & delivery records, manufacturing data, internet traffic data, product complaint data and so on.

It’s all there and to help analyze this we can use tools:

Pivot Tables have been around for quite a while and they use a graphical interface to design reports using spreadsheet tables. It requires a certain amount of learning but they’re very helpful when you’ve got the idea of how they work

IBM Watson Analytics is interesting because it examines the data automatically and suggest reports. You see a report that could be useful and click on it. So you don’t have to do so much thinking.

So the challenge is to experience the benefits of shifting from pencil and paper working. Once you’ve got the benefits, then you will start using more of the intelligence which you already have.

So if you have project issues to discuss, please do contact me.

Thanks very much.

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

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

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Do you really benefit from your virtual meetings?

How often have you experienced a teleconference where the answer to a question is: “Sorry, I couldn’t hear that. Please repeat your question”.  In my experience, this is a sure sign that the colleague was doing something else instead of listening actively to the discussion.

Meetings can be used for many functions including:

  • Sharing information about the progress of your work
  • Problem solving
  • Encouraging team building
  • Confirming understanding
  • Briefing about the work
  • Training
  • Checking the mood of the team

and so on.

The unwritten assumption used to be that all of these functions are best (or even only) achievable using a face to face meeting. Nowadays this assumption is simply not correct. Many or even most of the objectives of meetings can be carried out more simply by other methods.  To answer the question in the title is: “No, we do not always benefit from our virtual meetings”.

Very often, meetings take place to achieve one or other of the objectives already mentioned when it is simply not necessary to hole a meeting.  To give one example in project management: status of work is better communicated by updating a database of actions completed which is shared with management, clients and colleagues.  The meeting need then only review the status, not waste time collecting status information.

Project work requires that those involved and the stakeholders understand each other exactly.  This is not possible if the virtual meetings take place in an atmosphere where the participants focus on something else and treat the meeting like a cinema: I can look when I want to and nobody will notice if I don’t.

In French, the saying is “Ce n’est pas du cinéma” – “it’s not just cinema” is a good motto for virtual meetings.

My tip: look at the information sharing needs of each participant, then decide how to deliver this.  If a virtual meeting is suitable for some of this, that’s fine, but it should not be the default solution.

Thank you.

4 Essential Knowledge Management Processes

4 Essential Knowledge Management Processes.

Data is in a database and is not much use without being interpreted. But knowledge is in your head. It is interpreted data and it has meaning.

This idea of organizational knowledge management has been introduced into the ISO 9001 standard.

There are 4 processes:

Here’s the first one: You have to find out what knowledge you need to run the business so that it is consistent.

The second one is you have to make sure that the knowledge is kept up-to-date and it’s available to the people that need to know it.

The third one is: consider the current organizational environment and the trends – there may be changes in the requirements.

And the fourth one is: to make sure that we get the additional knowledge suggested by reviewing the trends and requirements.

So if you want to discuss this or any other project issue, please connect with me at scatterwork.com.

Thank you.

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

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

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Can you really afford on-site Project Team Training?

Can you really afford on-site project team training?

On-site training has great advantages. The face-to-face interaction is natural and it is great fun and effective.

Online training also has advantages.

It is immediate – it can be set up with very little lead time. It involves no travel costs and the logistics are simpler, for example you don’t need to organize rooms or lunches or travel visas. And it’s effective.

So when you look at both of them, why do we need one or the other? Very often the assumption is that the face-to-face interaction is the only way to do it, but today people are very used to operating through the social media and they have a completely different and more relaxed way of interacting with people who are further away.

The result of this is that online training is also effective, so it’s up to you to decide.

To discuss this or any other project issues, please connect with me at scatterwork.com .

Thank you.

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

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

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