Posts Tagged ‘manager’

Project Kickoff

Projects don’t always go through an organized sequence of planning, approval and execution. Sometimes a project is in various stages at once. Before you know it, you can be executing the project and find that team members and stakeholders have varying levels of understanding about the purpose and status of the project. Just as a project should have a formal end-of-project meeting to signify that it is complete, it also makes sense to hold a formal kickoff meeting to start a project. (Read more..)

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Manage Political Problems as Issues

Manage Political Problems as Issues
The larger your project gets, the more you will find that the issues you encounter are more and more political in nature. The issues have to do with the use of resources, project direction, project deliverables, how the project should be run, how the project impacts people, etc. The resolution of these issues requires you to gain consensus among people that have differences of opinion. In other words, the resolution requires you to recognize and work in office politics.
Generally speaking, politics is all about interacting with people and influencing them to get things done. This can be a good thing, a bad thing, or a neutral thing, depending on the tactics people use. The behavior of people can make office politics good or bad. Let’s consider some examples of how utilizing political skills might be good, but can also be bad.
You are able to move your ideas forward in the organization and get people to act on them (good), by currying favor, suppressing other opposing ideas and taking credit for the ideas of your staff (bad).
You have an ability to reach consensus on complex matters with a number of different stakeholders (good), by working behind the scenes with people in power, making deals and destroying people who don’t get on board (bad).
You receive funding for projects that are important to you and to your organization (good), by misrepresenting the costs and benefits, and by going around the existing funding processes (bad).
You develop a reputation as someone who can get things done (good), by using legitimate and illegitimate tactics and by walking over people that get in your way (bad).
The point of the examples is to show that influencing people and getting things done in a company bureaucracy is a good thing and the general term of “office politics” can have good connotations or bad. However, the typical use of the term is used to describe the shady methods that are used to get things done in the company bureaucracy.
It is not uncommon for a project team to be impacted by office politics. This can occur when there is a difference of opinion on the project deliverables, requirements, scope change requests, risk perceptions, etc. Are these differences of opinion caused by office politics, or just a legitimate and valid difference of opinion between people who both think that they are representing the best interest of the company?
Dealing with office politics is not a standard project management process. However, once the politics start to impact the project adversely, the situation should be identified as an issue, since the resolution is outside the control of the project team. You can’t utilize a checklist to resolve political issues. Political problems are people-related and situational. What works for one person in one situation may not work for another person in the same situation because people, and their reactions, are different. Identifying the problem as an issue will bring visibility to the situation and hopefully get the proper people involved in the resolution.
Generally, project managers need to become good at identifying and trying to resolve political issues. There are three areas to work on.
Try to recognize situations and events where politics are most likely to be involved. This could include decision points, competition for budget and resources, and setting project direction and priorities.
In general, deal with people openly and honestly. When you provide an opinion or recommendation, express the pros and cons to provide a balanced view to other parties. Make sure you distinguish the facts from your opinions so the other parties know the difference. You should always try to communicate proactively with all stakeholders.
If you feel uncomfortable with what you are asked to do, get your sponsor or your functional manager involved. They tend to have more political savvy and positional authority, and they should be able to provide advice and cover for you.
If you feel good about what you are doing, how you are influencing and how you are getting things done, then you are probably handling office politics the right way. If you feel guilty about how you are treating people and if you have second thoughts about the methods you are using to get things done, you are probably practicing the dark side of office politics.
tenstep.com

The larger your project gets, the more you will find that the issues you encounter are more and more political in nature. The issues have to do with the use of resources, project direction, project deliverables, how the project should be run, how the project impacts people, etc. The resolution of these issues requires you to gain consensus among people that have differences of opinion. In other words, the resolution requires you to recognize and work in office politics. (Read more..)

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Being a Client

A successful project requires a good client. Each project is unique and to achieve the right design outcome and design quality a strong team of designers need to work with a strong client group with focus and leadership. Delivering a capital project from start to finish is complex and challenging but also hugely rewarding. The role of the client is fundamental to its success. (Read more..)

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Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis
Sometimes when you try to resolve a problem, you find that what you thought was a root cause is really a related symptom, not the actual cause of the problem itself. Consider the following classic example.
A plant manager walks past the assembly line and notices a puddle of water on the floor. Knowing that the water is a safety hazard, he asks the supervisor to have someone get a mop and clean up the puddle. The plant manager is proud of himself for “fixing” a potential safety problem.
The supervisor, however, is suspicious. He is not sure why the puddle is there. It wasn’t there yesterday. He wonders what caused the puddle to be there today. Therefore, he looks for a root cause by asking ‘why?’ He discovers that the water puddle is caused by a leak in an overhead pipe. He asks ‘why’ again, and discovers that the pipe is leaking because the water pressure is set too high. He asks ‘why?’ again and discovers that the water pressure valve is faulty. He asks ‘why?’ again, and does not get a further answer. The faulty valve is the root cause of the problem. So, the valve is replaced, which solves the symptom of water on the factory floor.
Root cause analysis is a way to identify the ultimate cause of a problem. In the example above, there were many opportunities for solving the wrong problem. First, the plant manager could have ordered more mops to be available on the factory floor. The supervisor likewise could have ordered that the overhead pipe be replaced. However, these solutions would have ultimately been wasteful and they would not have solved the problem since they only addressed symptoms – not the problem itself.
Root cause analysis is usually accomplished by asking a series of ‘why’ questions. Just as the example above illustrates, you ask yourself ‘why’ a problem exists. Then you come up with one or more causes. For each of these causes, ask ‘why’ again. If you can answer that question again, then the first answer is probably a symptom brought on by the more fundamental cause. Continue to ask ‘why’ for each answer until you can no longer generate a logical response. This lowest level is likely to be a root cause and is what generates the observed symptoms. You may discover more than one root cause through this analysis.
When you have identified the root cause(s), put an action plan in place to solve the problem. The symptoms should go away as well.
tenstep

Sometimes when you try to resolve a problem, you find that what you thought was a root cause is really a related symptom, not the actual cause of the problem itself. Consider the following classic example. (Read more..)

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Analyzing Failure on Projects

Success and failure are integral to individual and corporate growth. Success is relatively easy to handle. Few individuals or companies fail to appreciate and gain confidence from successes. On the other hand, we are not usually equipped to deal with failures. (Read more..)

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Interview New Team Members

Interview New Team Members
Once your project is approved and ready to execute, a project team must be put together. Some of the resources might be full-time, some part-time. You may have a mix of contractors and employees. In many cases, the employee team members are assigned based on availability and best fit. However, in some cases, you need to hire for the positions. These could be employee hires or contractors.
The interview process is important – even more so if the person will be a full-time employee. Here are a few simple rules to remember before your interview.
Understand the job opening. Sometimes people interview a candidate and afterward wonder what position the candidate was being interviewed for. You can best evaluate the candidate if you have a mental picture of what he will be doing.
Understand your role. Different people usually have different roles and expectations in the interview process. For instance, you might be asked to comment on whether the candidate is a good personality fit for the team. You might also be asked to perform a technical interview. Each interviewer should understand whether he has specific interview expectations.
Be prepared. Make sure that you have reviewed the candidate’s resume ahead of time. Jot down some questions that will allow you to gain insight into the person’s background and ability. You may also have additional questions that your company requires you to ask as part of a standard review process.
Clear your mind. Do not go into the interview thinking about the sales promotion that is not going well or the problem you need to fix. While you are in the interview, focus on the discussion at hand.
Ask and listen. Have you been to an interview where the interviewer did all the talking? That is not what you are there for. Instead, ask questions and listen to the responses. Ask follow-up questions when possible to keep a dialog going.
It is good if multiple members of your team are part of the interview process. In this case, there are two main formats. The first is the “revolving door”. You get the candidate in a room and bring in the interviewers one at a time. Similarly the candidate can move from office to office to speak one-on-one with the interviewers. This method gives everyone a chance to gain an independent opinion of the candidate from different perspectives and using different questions, but it does require a longer time commitment from the candidate.
The second format is the “Spanish Inquisition.” You get the interview team in one room with the candidate. This approach lets everyone hear the same story one time and is the most efficient use of the candidate’s time. One drawback is that it can be very intimidating. You need to go out of your way to maintain a friendly and casual atmosphere. Many people’s preference for a group interview is the Inquisition, since everyone hears the same story and it gives some indication of how well the candidate responds under some pressure.
Your company is relying on you to help ensure that qualified candidates are hired. This is an important job and should be taken seriously. Whether you interview one-on-one or in a group, make sure you ask thoughtful questions and listen carefully to the responses. Then, be prepared to provide honest feedback during the interview debriefing process. This increases the value you provide to the interview process and helps your company make good, long-term hires for the future.

Once your project is approved and ready to execute, a project team must be put together. Some of the resources might be full-time, some part-time. You may have a mix of contractors and employees. In many cases, the employee team members are assigned based on availability and best fit. However, in some cases, you need to hire for the positions. These could be employee hires or contractors. (Read more..)

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Create Staffing Management Plan

The Staffing Management Plan describes your overall approach for acquiring and managing human resources on your project. The types of information to include in this plan include: (Read more..)

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Configuration Management

There are two major definitions for configuration management.

  1. It can be a term given to the identification, tracking and managing of all the assets of a project. This definition would be especially relevant on software development projects where the “configuration” refers to the collection of artifacts, code components, executables, etc. The items that you will track under configuration management are called “configuration items” in the Capability Maturity Model (CMMI). These configuration items can be interpreted quite broadly to include things such as: (Read more..)

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Planning Saves Time

Efficiency and effectiveness are key to the smooth functioning of an organization and can be achieved if work is properly planned and delegated. Before you start your work, take some time to plan. These plans should be flexible so that you can adapt them to different situations. However, you should ensure that details do not slow down your work. Here are some tips: (Read more..)

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Individual Performance Should Be Linked to Project Results

Have you ever been on a project that missed all of its commitments for cost, schedule, and quality? Although it may seem counterintuitive, there are a number of projects that have major problems, even some that are cancelled, on which the team members all receive great reviews and the project manager is promoted. (Read more..)

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