businessman leaving work to go to the beach, holidays, ball, palm treeThis is a guest article by Elizabeth Harrin. Elizabeth has recently published a review of ITM Platform on her blog. This article contains affiliate links that don’t cost you extra.

When I’m on holiday I want to be, you know, actually on holiday. Enjoying my vacation time, chilling out with a cocktail and a barbeque and playing ball with my kids. I don’t want to be checking emails, dealing with phone calls from my project sponsor or still doing project reports from the cabin in the woods because no one else can possibly write them in my absence.

I know our roles as the project manager is important, but the project can’t stop when we’re away. It’s not good for you to be using your relax and recharge time to do work. You deserve a break.

However, it’s easy to say. It’s less easy to do, because so much of the project management part of our roles isn’t straightforward to delegate to someone else, and often we don’t have anyone to delegate it to. That example of writing project reports while I was on holiday: that actually happened. The report wasn’t even that good because I wasn’t in touch with the team to get a real update of what was going on.

So how can you get a proper break without your project falling apart without you? Here are 5 stress-busting tips for before your vacation so you can go away and enjoy yourself with confidence.

1. Get On Top of Your Schedule

It feels a lot more comfortable to go away if you are leaving your project schedule in a good state.

An up-to-date schedule means that everyone will know what tasks they need to work on while you are away. To be honest, they’ve probably got an idea of what they should be doing anyway, but having it there accurately on the schedule means they have no excuse!

If you still have tasks without assigned resources, assign someone so that it’s on their radar while you are out of the office. If you need to, take some time before you go away to explain what the task is all about and how you expect it to be done. Use that conversation as a way to confirm the delivery date with them as well and to check that your estimate is realistic.

2. Handover the Important Stuff to Someone Else

If you are lucky, there won’t be anything important happening while you are away. You’re a project manager, so you’ve probably planned your holiday at a time where it is going to have a minimal impact on the project.

Unlike me, who went on maternity leave just before a two-year software development project went live (that was some handover).

However, if there is anything that is outstanding or is presenting as an issue, brief someone about it. You might have a number of people you talk to: don’t feel that your handover has to be to one single person. Your project sponsor might pick up some of the issue management. A workstream leader might chase down outstanding tasks. Your project coordinator might be briefed about staying on top of the action log.

Write down as much as you can when you’re preparing your handover because people forget. Include key contact details of people who can help them so that they don’t automatically speed dial you with problems.

You can also let them know what they can ignore. Someone might complete a project task, for example, but if it’s not on the critical path the work could sit there until you come back to deal with it. Try to set some clear guidelines about what should be actioned or progressed and what can wait. Trust me, a lot of it can wait.

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3. Set Your Out Of Office Message

Set expectations from the beginning about you being out of the office. Change your voicemail message so that people calling you hear that you are away from the office. Add an autoresponder to your email system so that people who contact you get a response saying that you are away. This all helps to manage your colleagues’ expectations so that they aren’t frustrated that you aren’t replying straight away (especially if that is what they are used to). It also gives you some breathing room as you’ll know people are being told where you are and what to expect in terms of a response.

If you have a deputy or someone who can handle the majority of your tasks, or urgent queries then include their details in your messages. Check with them first though! Personally I wouldn’t set up a rule to forward messages on, but if that’s the culture of your organization then get that created and working before you leave on your last day.

Remember to turn off your out of office responder and reset your voicemail when you get back. Just put a note in your diary to do it on the day you come back from holiday, and then no one will leave you voicemails saying that your message is out of date.

4. Talk To Your Sponsor

Even if you aren’t handing off any work to your sponsor, pop some time in their calendar to meet with them and discuss the plans for when you are off. Let them know your vacation dates and who they can turn to in an emergency.

If you are happy for them to contact you while you are away, let them know – and give them your vacation time contact details if necessary.

The aim here is for you to go away knowing that your sponsor is confident that everything is in hand and that you have it all under control, even if you aren’t physically there for a week or two. Again, this is all about managing expectations.

5. Plan Your Return

Block out the morning of your first morning back. Book yourself out so that your diary is full and no one tries to book you to attend a sneaky meeting.

This is your time to catch up. Review all your emails, get back into the swing of things, log into your project management software and check on the team’s progress. Having this buffer on your first day back is a huge stress reliever. Even if you do spend some of that time on the phone to the help-desk having forgotten the password for your laptop.

With all these plans in place, you can go away and have a fantastic time on your vacation. As much as it might feel like the project will grind to a halt without you there, it probably won’t happen. The chances of you coming back to a total disaster after a fortnight off are remote, especially if you’ve worked through these tips and put your plans into action for a smooth transition away and then back.

The team will no doubt be glad to have you back and I expect you’ll have a stack of emails to read, invoices to approve and tasks to do. But at least your forward planning will have made for a stress-free holiday and time to recharge before you get back into the daily management of your project.

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multitasking businessman. talented funny man with six hands. loudspeaker, idea, coffee, golden cup, gear and smartphone.1. Organization Design

Organizational design is a methodology that takes into account the various, potentially problematic, areas of projects, such as work-flow, structure, systems, roles and responsibilities and realigns them in the most appropriate way for the project.

The 3 most basic kinds of structure are; functional, project and matrix.

2. Negotiation

Negotiations happen constantly. A good negotiator knows not only what he needs, but also how to get it, both internally and externally to the organization.

That’s why negotiation is an incredibly advantageous skill to have as a project manager. However, since it belongs to the phantasmatic realm of soft skills, it is rarely mentioned.

Negotiation is the art of achieving the most benefit for yourself from a transaction, while leaving all parties to the negotiation sufficiently content that the relationship subsequently works well.

Formal negotiations usually take place with external providers typically when agreeing on contracts, while informal negotiations can arise resolving conflicts or in discussions to gain more internal resources.

3.Value Management

Value Management is defined as a way of improving business effectiveness using a combination of planning tools and methods to find the optimum balance of project benefits in relation to project costs and risks. It is done in a structured manner, and uses specific techniques:

  • Value Engineering is the management philosophy that should guide the design of the project, using proven techniques during the formative stages.

  • Value Analysis is the introduction of similar techniques to an already existing product, process or organization.

4. Industrial Relations

Far from being a PR concept, Industrial Relations covers a full range of functions related to work-force management. Of course, proper Industrial Relations require an in-depth knowledge and personal experience of the legal system, labor regulations, and the negotiations with the unions, for example.

This skill is a must have for a project manager that wants to create a positive and safe working culture, and solve or prevent work related incidents.

5. Variation Control

Traditionally, projects have been predictable. Differences between projects (variations) ideally are too –so they have to be managed.

To incorporate variation management, systems and processes must be established and properly documented. Once these steps are implemented, procedures and their variations can be managed in an efficient and controlled manner. This practice is also known as Change Control, and includes taking into account such variables as scope, specification, cost and schedule.

6. Conflict Management

Although it is considered a soft skill, it still has imperative importance to how successful a project manager will turn out to be.

Conflict Management is the process of identifying and addressing differences that, if left unsolved, could affect the business goals.  And we all know that an unresolved conflict can be expensive! It increases uncertainty, damages morale and undermines long-term team harmony.

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business man shake hand puzzle background agreement concept flat vector illustration

Although collaboration is an essential principle for a modern and innovative organization, it is worth remembering that it is not recommendable to embrace collaboration at all costs. The definition of a collaborative culture will have to be oriented to different parameters specific to each organization.

Collaboration for PMOs: advantages and disadvantages

If you are convinced that your organization needs to improve project collaboration, you must make sure collaboration is properly oriented and directed towards the goals of the organization.

For example, collaboration is a priority in innovation intensive organizations dedicated to the design of new products and services: the more ideas are gained, the greater the innovative potential. In these cases it may be important to collect inputs from all interested parties and even to determine a iterative procedure, whereby each design phase is subject to an open round of discussions.

However, in organizations with more predictive projects, a culture of open and uncontrolled collaboration can be pernicious. Even destructive:

  • Hierarchical validation procedures are proportionately related to deadline compliance
  • Informal communication relies on people, not processes. That is why large organizations and teams with high turnover suffer especially when they fail to combine collaborative elements with standardized procedures.

1. Project Management

Despite the risks of open collaboration, the risks of not collaborating are also high. A project manager who does not delegate, share information, or accept comments beyond the established channels becomes a bottleneck that can choke the entire organization.

On the contrary, among the collaborative responsibilities of the project manager is the habit of sharing knowledge with all stakeholders: team members and executives, clients, suppliers, or public entities in the case of tenders.To avoid being lost in this web, it is very important from a certain complexity to determine what tools, documents and processes are right for each stage.

2. Project collaboration

​ Another advantage of a collaborative controlled culture is that team members can benefit from cross-pollinization. Again, this is a very important aspect when the project presents unknowns or new problems to solve.

Some practices to make ideas flow:

  • Use open spaces
  • Use equally open chat tools: instead of email, a chat service for channels such as Slack, for example
  • Adopt SaaS tools, so that your computer's hard drives do not become black boxes

3. How to combine closed communication and standardized procedures

Unfortunately, these days it is not enough to be productive and execute a list of tasks within a project. Actually, we have many applications based on a timeless distribution of activities or the check-list approach , which, although they are very valid for certain functions, do not serve for the execution and planning of professional projects. The most difficult in these cases is to get the right balance between collaboration and controlled information.

ITM Platform Teambot is an application for Slack that allows, precisely, to speed collaboration through the messaging chat that has taken a robot to Mars while incorporating the strengths of an ITM Platform capacity planning tool. Where Slack adds the collaborative dimension, ITM Platform adds the control.

In fact, ITM Platform Teambot, created for all team members, is the most convenient way to use ITM Platform:

  • It allows to recall tasks and projects
  • facilitates reporting processes
  • Links seamlessly to ITM Platform

Advantages of ITM Platform Teambot:

  • Teambot is the only project management application in Slack that, besides allowing to recall information, offers the possibility to use agile and predictive methodology in the same integrated portfolio
  • Share knowledge and cooperate with organizations that integrate different hierarchies or open teams
  • Check projects and tasks in seconds
  • Report your progress from Slack and without ever having to log in to ITM Platform

Request a demo of ITM Platform and we will tell you how to establish successful collaborative practices for your projects.

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A guy looking in a binocular, standing on a pile of books, clouds, stars, apple, TrophyIf you want to become a risk manager, you will have to combine two types of training.

On the one hand, you must be a specialist in a particular field. For example, if you want to be a risk manager in the field of medicine or pharmaceuticals, you’ll need medical training, or hospital management training.

On the other hand, you need to acquire specialist training in risk management. Several institutions offer specific degrees in these areas.

Where to find risk management training

These are some of the major international institutions offering specific training in risk management.

Institute of Risk Management. Founded in 1986 in the UK with the aim of facilitating training and certification in risk management, it has international prestige and is one of the first institutions to grant degrees in this area. The diplomas offered are: the International Certificate in Enterprise Risk Management, the International Diploma in Enterprise Risk Management and Certificate in Risk Management in Financial Services. The price is around £1,000 for non-members.

Project Management Institute. The international reference for project management also has a specific course on risk management: the PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP). The certificate costs $670 (or $520 if a member of a PMI institute), and is obtained after a multiple choice test based on the PMI-RMP manual, which is available for free in this pdf.

The Chartered Insurance Institute. Also based in the UK, it is a comprised of approximately 120,000 members in societies in over 150 countries. It is the world's largest professional association in the field of financial planning and insurance. Although not dedicated solely to risk management, it provides accreditation in this and other areas.

If you’re hot for the more academic part of the issue, a host of Higher Education Institutions in the US offer Risk Management courses, from Stanford’s strategic decision and risk management courses to the PhD programs offered by Columbia University’s (Decision, risk and operations) or the University of Pennsylvania’s insurance and risk management. As you can imagine, this is the kind of PhD program that can be at least as rewarding careerwise as the most expensive MBA.

Of course, big firms and multinational corporations also have their say. If you’re interested in in-company training tailored to the needs of your organization and in implementing international standards like ISO 31000:2009, you can look up BSI’s risk management training courses or ASQs’ risk management essentials and implementation strategies.

Risk Doctor. Under the slogan "Exploiting Uncertainty Future", this website is the initiative of David Hillson, a celebrity in the field who calls himself the "Risk Doctor". It specializes in training for risk managers. Their slogan makes reference to precisely one of the functions of risk and project management: to turn adversity into strengths. On the page you can find plenty of resources, from books and scholarly articles to specialized webinars and videos of Hillsons’ conferences.

Constant Change

Even with good training and certification, risk management, like any other discipline, is subject to constant change and evolution. A professional who wants to stay up to date must constantly be looking for new sources of training and information. To do this, the internet is your best ally.

We recommend periodically visiting our blog where you can find up to date risk management and project items.


Here are some recommended articles:

Our new Risk Assessment Matrix is online

Keys to becoming a good risk manager

Risk management... The what, the why and the what to do


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