Tag Archives: Project Management

Hard Worker .. challenges for the project Managers?

How many times you see “Hard Worker” mention in all CVs your received when you hiring your team. You will see that Many People are mentioning that word in their CVs while they didn’t understand what this word Exactly Mean.

The mistake that always thought that hard working is only mean working a lot of time, but the truth is hard working is the work that challenge you to spent time digging into it till you reach the result you aimed without feeling that you passed a lot of time.

But the intelligence is to minimize that time in order to be able to manage your time between your tasks

Most of people try to keep out of this kind of tasks, but people who like this kind of tasks are achievable people who moved rapidly in their career.

One of challenges you will face in project management is to deal with lazy or non hard worker persons, when you intend to finish your tasks on time, the problem raise when your milestone raise and the work doesn’t complete probably, which will affect your project progress and cause delay, the other problem that non hard worker persons always claims for extended effort caused by their weakness or delay in accomplishing Tasks on time.

Hard Work catoon 2
source: www.cartoonstock.com

To know the lazy persons, simply ask the following questions

PM to Team Member: if you didn’t finish your task on time with accepted quality and you required spending more time over your daily work time or in your vacation shall I pay for you for this time.

You can receive many answers for that questions, committed person will never need you to ask such question , but certainly lazy person will answer yes I do my best with daily work time and this will be extra effort

The challenge for the project manager is when he have such persons like this among his team, he should work on how he could motivate them and monitoring their progress in order to take proper decision in required time.

You should be able to care about your project team, as they could affect your whole project, the time, the cost and the quality of the project.

Quotes on Hard Work

–          Every job is a self portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your work with excellence.

–          Failure is not the worst thing in the world. The very worst is not to try.

Hard Work catoon 1
source: www.cartoonstock.com

Risk Management

What is Risk?

Risk is an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has an effect on at least one project objective. Objectives can include scope, schedule, cost, and quality. A risk may have one or more causes and, if it occurs, it may have one or more impacts. A cause may be a requirement, assumption, constraint, or condition that creates the possibility of negative or positive outcomes.

Known & Unknown Risks & Issues

Known risks are those that have been identified and analyzed, making it possible to plan responses for those risks. Specific unknown risks cannot be managed proactively, which suggests that the project team should create a contingency plan. A project risk that has occurred can also be considered an issue.

What is Risk Management?

Risk Management includes the processes of conducting risk management planning, identification, analysis, response planning, and monitoring and control on a project. The objectives of Project Risk Management are to increase the probability and impact of positive events, and decrease the probability and impact of negative events in the project.

Risk Management Activities

  1. Plan Risk Management: The process of defining how to conduct risk management activities for a project.
  2. Identify Risks: The process of determining which risks may affect the project and documenting their characteristics.
  3. Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis: The process of prioritizing risks for further analysis or action by assessing and combining their probability of occurrence and impact.
  4. Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis: The process of numerically analyzing the effect of identified risks on overall project objectives.
  5. Plan Risk Responses: The process of developing options and actions to enhance opportunities and to reduce threats to project objectives.
  6. Monitor and Control Risks: The process of implementing risk response plans, tracking identified risks, monitoring residual risks, identifying new risks, and evaluating risk process effectiveness throughout the project.

More Detailed Information about each activity of Risk Management Activities will blogged Separately along with related Templates and Guidelines.

Source: Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® GUIDE).” Project Management Institute. 2008.

Project Status Reporting

One of key elements of the project management is the status reporting, which communicate critical project information between relevant stakeholder, delivering effective information to the right people in a timely manner is a key to successful projects.

What information should be included in the Project Status Report?

Information included in status report differ from project to project regarding different characteristics such Project Size, involved Stakeholders, organization structure, But there are a typical information for project reporting like:

Project Budget and Costing: focus on actual cost and compare it regarding the baselined budget, the right way to present this section is through Earned Value Management (EVM)

Project Schedule: Focus on accomplished work against the schedule.

Project Milestones: status of project milestones

Project Risks: status of Project Risks and status of mitigation or contingency actions taken against the risks.

Project Issues:  reports of issues raised during the project execution and action items taken against those issues.

Project Changes:  how changes affect the project progress and what action taken against the changes and how changes handled through project execution.

How frequent should a report be produced?

The answer of this question vary from project to project based on the project size, and activity duration, it could be weekly, bimonthly or monthly in large projects.

The timely report will enable relevant stakeholder to take required decision to keep the project in safe zone.

Project Status Report Template

Project Status Report template could be found in this site under templates page.

Virtual Team

What is Virtual Team?

A Virtual Team – also known as a Geographically Dispersed Team (GDT) – is a group of individuals who work across time, space, and organizational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of communication technology. They have complementary skills and are committed to a common purpose, have interdependent performance goals, and share an approach to work for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.

Geographically dispersed teams allow organizations to hire and retain the best people regardless of location

Reason for Virtual Team

Reasons for virtual teams center around the differences in time and space for team members.

  • Team members may not be physically collocated.
  • It may not be practical to travel to meet face-to-face.
  • Team members may work different shifts

Specifically, teams may be distributed because of the new realities facing organizations such as:

  • organization-wide projects or initiatives
  • alliances with different organizations, some of which may be in other countries
  • mergers and acquisitions
  • emerging markets in different geographic locations
  • the desire of many people and government organizations for telecommuting
  • the continuing need for business travel and information and communications technologies available to support this travel
  • a need to reduce costs
  • a need to reduce time-to-market or cycle time in general (the increasing velocity in business)

Benefits of the virtual teams

  • Best employees may be located anywhere in the world.
  • Workers demand personal flexibility.
  • Workers demand increasing technological sophistication.
  • A flexible organization is more competitive and responsive to the marketplace.
  • Workers tend to be more productive – less commuting and travel time.
  • The increasing globalization of trade and corporate activity.
  • The global workday is 24 vs. 8 hours.
  • The emergence of environments which require inter-organizational cooperation as well as competition.
  • Changes in workers’ expectations of organizational participation.
  • A continued shift from production to service/knowledge work environments.
  • Increasing horizontal organization structures characterized by structurally and geographically distributed human resources.

Main challenges in virtual teams

  • Not every type of project is suitable for a virtual organization.
  • Not everyone can perform well in a virtual team environment, the members should be self motivated and able to work independently.
  • The team member should be able to communicate clearly.
  • Result-orientation, unless the person shows clear results.
  • Managers of virtual teams also need to pay much more attentions to maintaining clear goals, performance standards, and communication rules.
  • Building and maintaining trust between the team members.

How to handle the challenge and managing the team

  • Include face-to-face time if at all possible.
  • Keep the Project Visible
  • Avoid or Reduce Communications Delays
  • Keep Team Members Visible
  • Augment Text Only Communications
  • Use Computer Supported Cooperative Work Technologies Where Possible
  • Establish Ground Rules or Group Norms
  • Take Time Out for Self-assessment
  • Recognize People
  • Learn from Experience

Types of Virtual Teams

  • Networked Teams consist of individuals who collaborate to achieve a common goal or purpose; membership is frequently diffuse and fluid.
  • Parallel Teams work in short term to develop recommendations for an improvement in a process or system; has a distinct membership.
  • Project or Product-Development Teams conduct projects for users or customers for a defined period of time. Tasks are usually nonroutine, and the results are specific and measurable; team has decisionmaking authority.
  • Work or Production Teams perform regular and ongoing work usually in one function; clearly defined membership.
  • Service Teams support customers or the internal organization in typically a service/technical support role around the clock.
  • Management Teams work collaboratively on a daily basis within a functional division of a corporation.
  • Action Teams offer immediate responses activated in (typically) emergency situations.

How to develop virtual team

  • Secure a project-based idea conducive to collaboration.
  • Build a business plan to include the team vision, purpose and goal.
  • Identify critical players to support the project.
  • Select people who can contribute their core competencies to the project.
  • Enlist their service.
  • Establish an initial meeting with members to lay down the groundwork, set guidelines and processes.
  • Strategically align all members to the projects goal.
  • Set a timeline.
  • Monitor activities and progress.

Effective Virtual Team Meetings

Four major roles to be fulfilled for effective virtual team meetings:

  • Owner: defines objectives and outcomes; works with facilitator to develop agenda and action items.
  • Participant: prepares for meeting; participates fully.
  • Facilitator: matches technology to the goals of the meeting; tests the technology prior to the meeting; responsible for meeting process (similar to face-to-face role).
  • Technologist: serves the meeting; should increase productivity. If technology is complex, a separate facilitator, or “technographer” is sometimes used to focus solely on the technology (is typically not a team member).

Five activities for all virtual meetings:

  • Selecting the appropriate technology and type of interaction (real time or asynchronous), given the purpose of the meeting; match the technology to specific agenda items and facilitation goals.
  • Manage the agenda, the participants, and the technology.
  • Leverage the agenda and use of technology to maximize recall, the opportunity to contribute, motivate, and reduce social pressure.
  • Make use of social protocols and best practices for selected technology.
  • Facilitating the effective use of technology; have a backup or contingency plan.

The following matrix assist the virtual team facilitator choose the appropriate technology based upon the purpose of the meeting:

technology matrix

Organizational Cultures and Styles

Most organizations have developed unique and describable cultures. These cultures are reflected in numerous factors, including, but not limited to:

  • Shared values, norms, beliefs, and expectations
  • Policies and procedures
  • View of authority relationships
  • Work ethic and work hours.

The structure of the performing organization often constrains the availability of resources in a spectrum from functional to projectized, with a variety of matrix structures in between.

The functional organization: is a hierarchy where each employee has one clear superior. Staff members are grouped by specialty, such as production, marketing, engineering, and accounting at the top level. Engineering may be further subdivided into functional organizations that support the business of the larger organization, such as mechanical and electrical. Functional organizations still have projects, but the scope of the project is usually limited to the boundaries of the function.

Projectized organization: team members are often collocated. Most of the organization’s resources are involved in project work, and project managers have a great deal of independence and authority. Projectized organizations often have organizational units called departments, but these groups either report directly to the project manager or provide support services to the various projects.

Matrix organizations: are a blend of functional and projectized characteristics.

Weak matrices: maintain many of the characteristics of a functional organization and the project manager role is more that of a coordinator or expediter than that of a manager.

strong matrices: have many of the characteristics of the projectized organization, and can have full-time project managers with considerable authority and full-time project administrative staff.

balanced matrix organization: recognizes the need for a project manager, it does not provide the project manager with the full authority over the project and project funding

Most modern organizations involve all these structures at various levels which called Composite Organization

Source: Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® GUIDE).” Project Management Institute. 2008.

Project Management Definitions

Project: is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.

Operation: An organizational function performing the ongoing execution of activities that produce the same product or provide a repetitive service.

Projects vs. Operational Work

Operations are ongoing and repetitive Work, while projects are temporary and unique.

Project management: is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. Project management is accomplished through the application and integration of the project management processes of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing.

Project manager: is the person responsible for accomplishing the project objectives.

Program: is a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually.

Program management: is the centralized, coordinated management of a group of projects to achieve the program’s strategic objectives and benefits.

Portfolio: is a collection of projects or programs and other work that are grouped together to facilitate effective management of that work to meet strategic business objectives.

Portfolio management: aim to maximize the value of the portfolio by careful examination of candidate projects and programs for inclusion in the portfolio and the timely exclusion of projects not meeting the portfolio’s strategic objectives, And to balance the portfolio among incremental and radical investments and for efficient use of resources.

Project management office (PMO): is an organizational unit to centralize and coordinate the management of projects under its domain.

Project stakeholders: are individuals and organizations that are actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be affected as a result of project execution or project completion.

Process: A set of interrelated actions and activities performed to achieve a specified set of products, results, or services.

Project Life Cycle: A collection of generally sequential project phases whose name and number are determined by the control needs of the organization or organizations involved in the project. A life cycle can be documented with a methodology.

Organization: A group of persons organized for some purpose or to perform some type of work within an enterprise.

Enterprise. A company, business, firm, partnership, corporation, or governmental agency.

Overview of Project Management Knowledge Areas and Project Management Processes

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® GUIDE).” Project Management Institute. 2008.

Tool: Something tangible, such as a template or software program, used in performing an activity to produce a product or result.

Technique: A defined systematic procedure employed by a human resource to perform an activity to produce a product or result or deliver a service, and that may employ one or more tools.

Standard: A document established by consensus and approved by a recognized body that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.

Skill: Ability to use knowledge, a developed aptitude, and/or a capability to effectively and readily execute or perform an activity.

Practice: A specific type of professional or management activity that contributes to the execution of a process and that may employ one or more techniques and tools.

Methodology: A system of practices, techniques, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline.

Procedure: A series of steps followed in a regular definitive order to accomplish something.

Knowledge: Knowing something with the familiarity gained through experience, education, observation, or investigation, it is understanding a process, practice, or technique, or how to use a tool.

Discipline: A field of work requiring specific knowledge and that has a set of rules governing work conduct

Deliverable: Any unique and verifiable product, result, or capability to perform a service that must be produced to complete a process, phase, or project.

contract: is a mutually binding agreement that obligates the seller to provide the specified product or service or result and obligates the buyer to pay for it.

Resource: Skilled human resources , equipment, services, supplies, commodities, materiel, budgets, or funds.

Product: An artifact that is produced, is quantifiable, and can be either an end item in itself or a component item.

Specification: A document that specifies, in a complete, precise, verifiable manner, the requirements, design, behavior, or other characteristics of a system, component, product, result, or service and, often, the procedures for determining whether these provisions have been satisfied.

Requirement: A condition or capability that must be met or possessed by a system, product, service, result, or component to satisfy a contract, standard, specification, or other formally imposed documents. Requirements include the quantified and documented needs, wants, and expectations of the sponsor, customer, and other stakeholders.

Estimate: A quantitative assessment of the likely amount or outcome. Usually applied to project costs, resources, effort, and durations and is usually preceded by a modifier (i.e., preliminary, conceptual, feasibility, order-of-magnitude, definitive). It should always include some indication of accuracy.

Variance: A quantifiable deviation, departure, or divergence away from a known baseline or expected value.

Quality: The degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements.

Acceptance Criteria: Those criteria, including performance requirements and essential conditions, which must be met before project deliverables are accepted.

Objective: Something toward which work is to be directed, a strategic position to be attained, or a purpose to be achieved, a result to be obtained, a product to be produced, or a service to be performed.

Risk: An uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on a project’s objectives.

Defect: An imperfection or deficiency in a project component where that component does not meet its requirements or specifications and needs to be either repaired or replaced.

Effort: The number of labor units required to complete a schedule activity or work breakdown structure component. Usually expressed as staff hours, staff days, or staff weeks. Contrast with duration.

Issue: A point or matter in question or in dispute, or a point or matter that is not settled and is under discussion or over which there are opposing views or disagreements.

Inspection: Examining or measuring to verify whether an activity, component, product, result or service conforms to specified requirements.

Earned Value Management (EVM): A management methodology for integrating scope,schedule, and resources, and for objectively measuring project performance and progress.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): A deliverable-oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables. It organizes and defines the total scope of the project. Each descending level represents an increasingly detailed definition of the project work.

Opportunity: A condition or situation favorable to the project, a positive set of circumstances, a positive set of events, a risk that will have a positive impact on project objectives, or a possibility for positive changes. Contrast with threat.

Template: A partially complete document in a predefined format that provides a defined structure for collecting, organizing and presenting information and data.


Source: Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® GUIDE).” Project Management Institute. 2008.