Project Management – May I Help You Master Your Challenges?

Last week I wrote about the biggest challenges in PM. I collected answers of 10 of the top PM experts in order to comprehend what project managers have to be aware of to successfully run a project. I thought it’d been an informatory and adventurous experience and it, in fact, urged me to get once more in touch with the same experts, on a quest to find their holy answers to the challenges.

There is Always Good and Bad

David Blumhorst, Vice President at Daptiv, calls hitting the business target, PM’s biggest challenge. He holds Project Management liable for meeting business targets and believes that a good Project Manager differs from others due to his quality to make decisions about if the project is really on track to meet the business targets.

Get Trained to Triumph

Josh Nankivel criticises bad-defined scopes as they cause schedule and cost overruns. He encourages Project Managers to take their time so as to create a clear and concise definition of the deliverables. Work-breakdown structures are vitally important and need to be well-prepared. He believes that it’s something you can learn and adopt to as he initiated a training program for Project Managers where they learn how to get rid of the lack of their work-breakdown structures.

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Education and qualification are aspects where Jason Westland and Elizabeth Harrin spot defects. They are convinced that PM needs to be a “full discipline“, something that requires a lot of study and training. Due to the quickly changing world, Project Managers should ensure to constantly update their knowledge in order to have a sophisticated view on the different aspects PM includes.

Don’t Forget you are a Human, not a Robot

To Ron Holohan and Mark Horstmann, communication is the biggest challenge PM faces today. According to them, Project Managers should try to implement a well-balanced use of technological and human resources in their projects. A steady interaction and communication with your team members is inevitable and something that can not be replaced by technology. PM-software offers great features that accelerate and often simplify processes and the right use of these features possibly results in an advantage for the whole team. Always be aware though, that Software can also lead to misunderstandings and result in a complication of circumstances. In this context I would like to quote Soma Bhattacharia once more. She says:”no matter what tools we got […] at the end of the day you have to work with your team”, and suggests to know who you work with and what you can do to create a pleasant atmosphere.

A Compliment a Day Keeps the Notice of Termination Away

Ressources Management, as mentioned before, is a big challenge. Margaret Meloni critices the continued push to get everyone to do more with less. To avoid a self-contained and awful atmosphere she advises to take time for employees as well as for yourself. Managers should interact with their team members and show them, that they are appreciated to increase their self esteem.

Pass On Responsibility!

In my last post I furthermore mentioned Tom Mochal’s opinion on the biggest challenge which is a lack of functional reports. He assumes that, in order to prevent this from happening, managers should have assigned people validate the enddate and buy into the enddate. That way they are obligated to tell you if they can’t make it, as soon as they know. Tom additionally entrusts Managers to assure to have reliable, responsible and passionate reporters around them.

How Do you Create Passion Though?

The last challenge I wrote about was Mark Perry’s maintenance of passion. He presents 10 great tips that, in the long run, help you master the challenge!

  1. integrate passion to your work
  2. eliminate irritating tasks
  3. reacquaint yourself with your career
  4. be grateful to all those who helped you
  5. surround yourself with passionate and motivated people
  6. recognize your passion
  7. expect and encounter negativism
  8. “a book a week keeps passion from getting weak”
  9. spread the word
  10. have faith in your passion

All of these essential advices can help Project Managers to overcome challenges and obstacles. Eventually there is a wide range of supervisors and tons of software that aims to solve these challenges in collaboration with Project Managers. But what I have discovered, and what we can also gather from the experts’ answers, is that it only takes a little bit of humanity to master the majority of the problems.

The Biggest Challenge Project Management Has to Face!

For the last days I’ve been probing Project Management experts from all over the world in order to get a better idea of what challenges Project Management faces nowadays. It’s been amazingly instructive and informative. Reading and listening to their answers has truly given me a new and clearer view into the complexity ensuing from project management.

I started my search based on the question “What is the biggest challenge Project Management(PM) has to face in our modern, technologically advanced world?” I, therefore, got in contact with 10 of the top PM-experts that have provided me with individual answers to the given question which I would gladly like to share with you.

Stay on Track

One thing that challenges every business and every project is hitting the business target. David Blumhorst says that on time, on budget and on scope deliver does NOT equal hitting the business target. According to him, project managers’ biggest challenge is to make sure they’re on track to meet the business targets.

It’s Always Good to Know What you are Doing

If you dont define your scope in clear and concise terms in the begining and really go through that process of working out exactly what the deliverables are that you’re gonna deliver to your customer and then decomposing what exactly it’s gonna take to do all those things […] then you’re gonna be missing things.”, Josh Nankivel reports and refers to a general lack in work-breakdown structures. In his opinion an unpalatably defined scope is the indubitable reason for schedule and cost overruns, which quite often frustrate projects.

Lack of Qualification

Jason Westland takes Josh’s and David’s opinion to the next level as he detects defects in the qualification of nowadays managers. He complains that it’s, in these days, too easy to become a project manager as it only takes a short advanced training to receive a certificate. “Now most managers dont have lots of qualifications. The percentage of project managers that have a formal qualification is getting a lot less”, Jason remarks, claiming to keep PM a “full discipline“.

Comprehensive Schools as a Solution?

And Jason is surly not left alone with his assumption. Elizabeth Harrin urges to introduce a national standard which would enable a universally accepted qualification. But she also addresses a problem: “Project related work and jobs are growing too quickly for our approaches to professionalism to keep up”, Elizabeth notes and adds that this is precisely why it’s become hard for employees and employers to choose their qualifications.

“Two monologues do not make a dialogue”

-Jeff Daly-

Besides a general lack of classification and qualification Ron Holohan comes up with a totally new aspect, the importance of communication. He declares: “We are getting worse at communicating with people on and off of our teams” and refers to the wide range of technology on market. Ron underlines the importance of PMS but also blames it for scope creep, conflicts and misunderstandings. Mark Horstmann agrees as he believes that the real problem is the increasing focus on technology as a solution to more effective projects when in fact the only solution that has ever existed when it comes to projects is people who do good work in a timely way. “Technology is great but it’s worthless without people“, he continues and reasons the success of projects from how well people fit in the project.

People=Resources → Resources=Inevitable

Soma Bhattacharia proves the importance, stating “no matter what tools we got […] at the end of the day you have to work with your team”. In her opinion project managers need to pay more attention to the interpersonal communication as well as the resources management in order to know who you work with and what you can do to create a pleasant atmosphere.

Don’t Forget about People

Resources Management also plays an important part in Margaret Meloni’s view on the biggest challenge PM faces today as her response to the opening question is the continued push to get everyone to do more with less. “We get caught up in a hectic paste that we forget about the people around us“,Margaret states and argues: “The more that we demand from people, the better we need to treat them.”

The Choice of the Right Underling

Another challenge that deals with human resources and interpersonal communication offers Tom Mochal. Taking his theories into account an obstacle is the problem of trying to assign work and get work done with people that don’t report to their manager functionally. If you’re given inchoate, erroneous or even no information at all, the project is likely to fail.

Is it only about Information?

Mark Perry provides us with the answer. Project management offices(PMO), unlike other organisations that are driven by mission-critical goals such as making a sales quote or achieving a market share target, usually don’t have blatant and public victories but still have to deal with issues, problems and unrealistic expectations by management and stakeholders. Mark complains about a lack of commitment by those that are assigned to a project. According to him the biggest challenge project management faces is to find a way to keep up the passion for what you’re working on.

As we can see, the assumptions of the importance of different challenges vary a lot and every expert has an individual view on the biggest challenge but one thing they all have in common is to make PM as effective as possible.

Don’t forget to check out my next post which will deal with ways to solve the addressed problems!

Project Management – Can Software Solve all of our Problems?

The right Project Management Software

When you search the web for information about Project Management Software (PMS), you’ll find plenty of Software providers that offer, as they say, the best program on market. Surely, all of them aim to implement something extraordinary and matchless in their application but that extra feature shouldn’t be the decisive argument for a purchase. Rating agencies like TopTenReviews and forums like Bright Hub zero in on discussing software in order to provide potential customers with a good resume of the respective program. To eventually understand these summaries and to find the program that suits most, it’s inevitable to acquire a deeper knowledge of the problems that may occur and to know what project management software does to solve or minimize the issues. Project Management Software 2

There are far more than a hundred problems that are likely to occur and cause a project to fail, if certain aspects are neglected or even excluded when starting a new project. I, personally, set priorities, only writing about the potential problems that I consider to be the most significant ones. If we structure the process of a project, we can simply use 3 time periods: Firstly the “preparation-period” when requirements, time frames, objectives and steps are set and evaluated. Secondly the actual “execution” and lastly the “revision” of the project, when success is evaluated through a nominal-actual comparison.

1)

Prepare your Project carefully! Project Management Software

Steve Yager, CEO Artemis International, claims that the first problem that may cause a project to fail is the fact that it can’t begin on time and has vague requirements. To avoid these issues, he suggests to start the project, no matter what’s additionally going on, even if you only start out by breaking down tasks. “The project scope must be narrowed enough at the outset to provide a clear path to the end. Before moving forward, project managers should establish reasonably stable metrics”, Yager writes. He admits that project management software can easily help you by enabling you to create a schedule and set priorities. Based on your needs these programs even provide you with realistic projections to help you manage your resources.

The  Strategic Alignment

Managers want to make sure that they start the right project. Lack of strategic alignment is another indicator for failing. When you’ve reached a point where your current project does not anymore correspond to the objectives you’d set, it’s already too late because you’ve been investing tons of time and money. Yager therefore recommends to ensure that “each project charter contains and explains the rationale for undertaking a project in the context of the current business drivers of the organization.”

2)

 Don’t´Ignore First Stirrings of Failure

When the execution of the project has been started, it’s still likely to fail if you don’t pay close attention to approaching disasters. If there is any sign of failure, you may want to take it seriously and start trying to fix the issue instead of ignoring. Software, in this respect, helps you by reminding you when you’ve reached limits of your resources. It also illustrates the amount of days you’re lagging behind your set time.

 How Does PMS Accelerate the Process?

James Clear addresses an additional issue. Slow communication. If you’re working for a client, an unsteadily communication may result in stagnation of the project. This might be due to the contact’s low interest in the project or communication issues. Project Management Software therefore allows you to easily share the progress with whoever you want and enables you to quickly communicate within the team or with outsiders. In consequence of this, Yager adds that it’s vitally important to make sure that other member can smoothly take over tasks in case of absenteeism. Applications enable managers to post tasks and member to accept or refuse them.

3)

Learning from mistakes!

After your project has finished, managers are expected to revise and evaluate the process and the project in general. The Natural Resources Management and Environment Department gives a clear statement referring to the evaluation:” The consensus is that evaluation, like monitoring, is important because it allows lessons to be learned, leading to improvement in future projects.” The feedback options are a efficient and easy way to revise your project and get feedback by the client, management etc. The project management software contains special columns to give feedback, which should already be used during the project to make sure you’re on the right track. In the end software gives you a clear view on how well you’ve used all of your resources to, as NRMaED writes, learn from it.

Is PMS my Savior?

Project Management Software if definitely a great way to help you manage and organize your project but it’s based on your commands, as a1tasks post on their blog:” Since project management software does not possess intelligence of its own, it cannot be expected to solve all problems.”

So it is still up to you to be aware of the problems related to Project Management and to not let them destroy our project!