Multifaceted demands on a project manager

Projects are strategic in nature, so are the demands on a project manager. Organizational success, achievement of business goals is directly linked to the successful completion of projects on time, within budget and with quality. The project manager has to cater to the needs of the project, the organization (organizations), industry, professional discipline and across disciplines. Performing integration is the key role of the project manager. Performing integration comprises of the ‘Plan, Do, Check and Act’ of integrating the efforts and work of all to achieve the project goals.

The key stakeholders of the project management role

The project

  • Business analysts
  • Design
  • Engineering
  • Procurement
  • Quality management
  • Risk management
  • Resource management
  • Procurement management
  • Consultants
  • Customer
  • Contractors

The Organization

  • Sponsors
  • Senior management
  • Functional managers
  • Peers (other project managers)

The Industry

  • Industry trends / technological advances
  • Standards organizations
  • Products and prices
  • Competitors
  • Industry benchmarks

Professional discipline

  • Professional bodies like PMI, AACE, Agile alliance, Scrum alliance, PMRI
  • Engineers associations
  • Association of project cost accountants
  • Environmentalists
  • Ethics committees
  • Universities
  • Project management blogging communities
  • Linked in groups
  • Networking with industry experts

Across disciplines

  • Collaborative innovation across disciplines

As we can see, project manager’s is a very strategic role and calls for diverse skills and qualities to cater to the demands of the stakeholders, both internal and external.

PMI’s talent triangle

Skills of a leader

  • Commitment
  • Being a visionary (without total commitment, one will not be able to articulate the vision)
  • Optimistic and inspiring positive attitude
  • Collaborative outlook
  • Relationship building
  • Conflict management
  • Effective communication (Project managers spend about 90% of their time in communication). This include listening skills as well.
  • Demonstrating professional ethics of project managers in all transactions (Responsibility, Respect, Fairness, Honesty)
  • Sharing credit with others
  • Lifelong learner
  • Result oriented
  • Ability to prioritize and focus on important things
  • Ability to manage politics and power and get things done

Performing integration

Projects comprises of multiple sub-teams and even contractors, sub-contractors. Each one of them will have individual plans (engineering plan, design plan,construction plan, procurement plan, quality plan, risk plan, safety plan, scope management plan, schedule management plan etc). All these have to be integrated into a cohesive integrated project plan during the planning phase, and must be continually integrated throughout the project life cycle. During execution, the work packages from these entities have to be integrated. Performing integration at the plan level and at the work package level is a key responsibility of the project manager and she has to have the necessary knowledge, skills and drive to perform this role during the entire project duration

Reference : The project management body of knowledge PMBOK by PMI, USA.

Project stakeholder management

If we can maintain the project stakeholders satisfied throughout the project, then the project is successful. The first step towards this is aggressive stakeholder identification and stakeholder’s expectation management. The positive expectations must be maximized where as the negative expectations must be minimized. While the stakeholder register will vary across projects, the following list contains the most common project stakeholders;

  • The sponsor (the entities funding the project)
  • Project managers (Owner’s PM, Contractor’s PM, Consultant’s PM, Discipline wise PMs)
  • Program managers (If the project under consideration is part of a program)
  • Portfolio managers (If the project under consideration is part of a portfolio)
  • Project management office (PMOs)
  • Consultants
  • Team members
  • Supervisors
  • Equipment manufacturers / Suppliers
  • Procurement management teams
  • Risk management teams
  • Quality management teams
  • Safety department
  • Planning department
  • Competitors
  • Statutory bodies

I am sure that a detailed analysis will extend this list further. If we have to perform a detailed stakeholder analysis, we need to;

  1. Identify the stakeholders
  2. Perform stakeholder analysis
  3. Manage stakeholder engagement in the project

The following two blog post of mine published at  Wrench elaborates these concepts further;

The art of managing project stakeholders – Part 1 

The art of managing project stakeholders – Part 2

 

The output of the stakeholder analysis is the stakeholder classification into the quadrants

stakeholderanalysis

The high power / low interest category of stakeholders must be kept informed about the project progress using a milestone chart (summary level information). The high power / high interest category of stakeholders must get more detailed view of the project at frequent intervals in the form of   Milestone charts, High level schedules, Risk rating matrix, Project ‘S’ Curves etc. The Low power / Low interest category can be ignored. The Low power, High interest category must receive the project progress details at a frequency which will ensure their interest in the project. Very often, the low power – high interest category is very powerful as a segment. For example :- The product review bloggers. They are the opinion leaders, and they must be proactively managed.

Summary

Stakeholder engagement is one of the critical success factors for every project. Project managers must proactively plan for effective stakeholder identification and management throughout the project. Since stakeholders power is directly linked to their organizational structure (functional, strong matrix, weak matrix, balanced matrix, projectized, composite), a proper study of the stakeholder’s positions, and their organizational structures will help in better project risk management and communications management.

pmp_kochi_kerala_india

 

 

Multi dimensional risk analysis for PMP

Here is a multi dimensional risk analysis for the PMP credential from the industry, trainer, PMP aspirant perspectives with an intent to communicate an independent and unbiased view. 

pmprisks

Industry related risks 

  1. The risk – There is a wide spread rumor about PMP credential as a product, which has reached the end-of-life stage in the product life cycle.  Reality – While this can be true from the training providers perspective due to too many trainers / companies undercutting each other, this is never true from the project management professional’s / aspiring professional’s perspective. PMP still rules as most recognized certification for predictive project management (most suited for large projects involving engineering, procurement, construction and management (EPCM). PMP credential is followed by PRINCE2. There is no other choice as of now for anyone who wants to pursue a globally accepted predictive project management related certification based on Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) by Deming. I am using the term ‘predictive project management’ explicitly because there are many popular certifications available under the agile family (SCRUM, XP, RUP, TDD etc..) which are not a right fit for EPCM projects where the engineering discipline does not allow for much change, hence the agile family of frameworks are more suitable for product development where the requirements and the technology are highly volatile. Even then I am toying with the idea of applying agile during the planning phase of EPCM projects. Do not pelt stones at me because I am talking differently, or because I am the only one talking so. Unfortunately the agilists and the traditionalists do not like each other very much, even when the scrum masters fail miserably because they do not have any clue about stakeholder management, risk management, communication management, resource management, scope management, quality management etc. In my personal opinion, predictive and adaptive (agile) project management streams are complimentary  in nature for those whose goal is to manage their projects successfully, without bias towards any one particular framework.

Trainer related risks

  1. Many trainers teach the inputs, tools and techniques and outputs of the project management processes, in the same sequence as they are listed in the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK), without focusing on the benefits. That makes it very boring and difficult to remember (note that PMBOK is a 750+ page document). A better approach would be to learn process group wise;
    • Initiation
    • Planning
    • Execution
    • Monitoring & Controlling
    • Closing – This approach makes it easy to remember, as this is the natural flow of the project.
    • processgroupwisedoclist
  2. Many trainers provide too much emphasis on remembering inputs, tools&techniques and outputs (ITTO). Remembering them for 49 processes is humanly impossible, especially when one is under exam pressure. In fact, surprisingly those who spent maximum effort to mug up ITTO during their preparation time have failed in the final exam. Once you understand PMBOK process group wise, it is easy to recollect logically the inputs, tools&techniques and outputs. For example remembering the ITTO for the process ‘Develop project charter’ is much easier when one looks at it as the first process under ‘Project initiation’ process group, than the ‘First process’ under ‘Project integration management’ knowledge area.
  3. They do not give any emphasis on the ‘professional ethics’ of project managers. You can imagine the plight of someone who tries into master professional project management without any idea about professional ethics. Since the questions are scenario based, every project management scenario has an ethics angle, and mastering it makes it easier while choosing the best project management decisions.
  4. PMBOK has a wealth of information for the project management practitioner. Many trainers lacks the experience to articulate the concepts from the practitioner’s perspective. For example, project charter can be explained as just an output of project initiation or it can be a great document to develop a well understood project success criteria among all stakeholders..
  5. Trainers may not be well versed with various project domains to cite the right examples, whereas the participants are from different domains. They end up seeing everything as a nail, because the only tool they have is a hammer.
  6. Trainers trying to showcase their knowledge than focusing on the knowledge transfer. Mostly with inexperienced trainers.
  7. Trainers who does not explain things in detail, due to monotony. Mostly with highly experienced trainers.
  8. Trainers recommending too many reference material, thus making the preparation difficult.
  9. Trainers who charge very less fees, who losses interest mid way through the course because they are not compensated enough for their efforts.
  10. Disillusioned trainers, who are wearing the trainer’s hat out of compulsion than by choice.

Learner related risks

  1. Underestimating the effort required. One need to spend atleast 80 hours of preparation time, which include training, self study and exam practise.
  2. Over confidence, hence insufficient preparation.
  3. Lack of confidence, hence not scheduling the exam and finally dropping the idea.
  4. Enrolling for cheap courses, just because they are cheap, without giving any weight age for trainer profile, method of training and track record. Online courses which are just record and play, which are priced lower than the price of books is the number one culprit. Think of the frustration, re-preparation effort and the re-registration fees after failing in the first attempt. Passing PMP in the first go is very important. Do not decide based on the direct costs alone, consider the indirect costs (especially the cost of failure) as well, before deciding on the training program.
  5. Try to finish it off at the earliest, preferably within 30 days of the course completion, else other priorities may take precedence.

pmpinjust5weeks

Open your eyes before you open your mouth

Mentoring someone with imposter syndrome

Found this HBR article very useful. At times, I am also suffering from this syndrome. May be, I am not alone in this. Most of us would have undergone this at some point or other.

https://hbr.org/2019/02/mentoring-someone-with-imposter-syndrome

Before the camera – 10 points to professionalize your corporate video presentations

Whatever is repeated is a potential candidate for automation. Repeated or to-be repeated corporate presentations, learning / training programs are no exception. While adding professionalism to our otherwise amateurish video presentations can be exciting, there are many hurdles one has to cross, which are successfully overcome by everyone else,  who have traversed the same path before. Speaking to the camera is a different ballgame when compared to talking to live audience. The time has come for professional managers to develop great video presentation skills. Here are the lessons I learnt from my journey and by observing others behind and before the camera within the corporate world.

  1. Everything needs planning to get perfect results. Professional video making is no exception.
  2. Practice is the key. Do not expect perfection without practice.
  3. No one in this world captures perfect video presentations without retake.This awareness will help you to remain cool and confident in the middle of multiple retakes.
  4. Script / story boards are essential. That is a perfect confidence booster. Will help to avoid repetition.
  5. Good and comfortable dressing and makeup are essential.
  6. Body language is important. Do it during the time of the day when you are most energetic.
  7. Do it incrementally than attempting long single take. If possible do it sentence by sentence. While this increases editing work, this reduces stress on the presenter. Patience and energy to do several takes is important. Do not try to finish it off quickly. Take breaks when required.
  8. Setting the right environment is important. Everyone must set their mobiles to silent mode. There is nothing more frustrating than a ringing mobile during a video recording. Prevent others from moving behind the scenes, unless it is planned so. Do not compromise on perfect lighting and audio as it enhances the viewing experience.
  9. Begin with the end in mind. At the end, you are going to get great product / output. Treat your video shoot as a project. Manage all potential risks pro-actively.
  10. Observing professional corporate video shoots with an intent to learn and improve and then implementing the lessons learnt is the smartest way to master this art. In fact, the points in this blog post are my notes to self which I scribbled down on my mobile phone while observing how professionals perform a professional corporate video shoot at WRENCH.