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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fashion trend colors seamless pattern For change to be carried out under optimal conditions, it must influence a series of attitude changes in the workforce to ensure that it is carried out successfully, both individually and collectively.

However, it may be complex to produce changes in business organisations and its working methodologies, both in large and small corporations.

Some studies indicate that approximately 70% of attempted company change or transformation end in failure. This is not surprising, because human beings, by nature, are conformist and tend to be resistant to change.

According to a 2016 study by consulting firm McKinsey, there are four building blocks that determine the influence on employee behaviour.

All the models focus in the mindset of the worker and assume that the worker will accept the change if he observes or finds positive attitudes around his or her working environment. Therefore, the exposition of each of the attitudes will begin by articulating a phrase that summarises the worker's feeling towards them. Below, we will analyze why each of the attitudes work.

Text "I will change my mind-set and behavior if..."

Role Modelling

"I observe that my colleagues, leaders, and in general the whole team behave differently."

This theory works because people tend to imitate the attitudes of a group and to integrate within it, both consciously and unconsciously.

If the whole team behaves in a certain way, the tendency is that all workers try to adopt the same attitudes to blend in.

All new members will be conscious of the active working model and, therefore, will adopt it immediately.

Knowledge, understanding and conviction

"I understand what is being asked of me and it makes sense to me" 

In a company, or in any other organization, there are critical voices, and they must always exist. They are necessary for both individual and collective growth. 

However, both criticisms as well as the adoption of collective standards, especially among highly qualified teams, should not be destructive but constructive. In this way, the company can present a certain flexibility to adapt to the specific needs and methodologies of each of its employees. 

At the same time, as they are rules that are not completely imposed, but are collectively established, understood and accepted by all workers, compliance is guaranteed. 

The worker should not understand the new methodologies of work as an imposition but as a necessity that makes his work more productive and efficient. 

Development of talents and abilities

"I have the skills, the talent and the opportunity to adopt the new working methodologies."

In order to adopt new working methodologies, firstly, it is necessary to learn to use them from a theoretical point of view and then proceed to a practical tutored period. To do this, the company must conceive the adoption of new work methodologies and new project management systems as an investment for the future. After all, the work, products or services developed by the company are channelled through projects, so working on their optimization means facilitating the success of the company as a whole.

In addition to the worker feeling that what is good for the company is good for him, he must also feel accompanied and guided during the process of change. Therefore, it is necessary to teach already established workers to adopt to the new working methodologies.

Reinforcement of adopted attitudes

"I note that structures, processes, and systems support the change that is required of me."

The dissonance between the demands of behavioural change and the infrastructure of technology and methodologies can definitely inhibit not only motivation for change, but the employee's own commitment to the organization and leadership. On the other hand, if the employee is able to see that the required change is not only a necessary consequence of the organization's processes, but that its new behaviour is prolonged and supported by those same processes, leadership will be perceived as responsible, considerate and capable to take into account all the details.

If workers observe, feel, and understand that change leads to a more successful business and that this is beneficial to them, they will be happy to continue adopting new work systems. Therefore, the greater productivity achieved through change must be transferred to their daily work and demonstrated through data and also through improvements in their daily lives.

 

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Our guest author, Albert Garriga, the man behindrecursosenprojectmanagement.com, covers in detail two of the most powerful methodologies for multiproject situations: critical chain and earned value.

vector modern colorful geometry triangle pattern, color abstract geometric background, pillow multicolored print, retro texture, hipster fashion designA common situation in many companies is the existence of several projects running in parallel, which share and compete for the resources of the departments. This is what is known as a multiproject environment, and requires criteria and tools to prioritize the allocation of these resources and maximize the overall result of the organization.

In this article, we are going to discuss two methods to be able to manage multiproject organizations; which are based on two well-known project management methodologies: Critical Chain and Earned Value.

 

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Critical Chain Prioritization

If projects are planned using the Critical Chain method, the protections of the different projects allow for an objective criterion for the decision making process, at least in relation to the schedule; as this shows the actual status of the project and the risk of not complying with the delivery date.

Imagine that we have six projects, each with its protection related to the tasks in its critical chain and its degree of progress. From this data, we can place them in a graph that shows the percentage completed on the horizontal axis and the percentage of protection consumption on the vertical axis.

The graph would be as follows and allows to distinguish three areas:

  • Green area. The consumption of protection is low in relation to the progress of the task, implying that the project is performing better than expected, and therefore the confidence interval to meet the schedule has increased. This would be the case for projects D and E.
  • Yellow area. The consumption of protection is close to the estimated, so we expect the project to meet the schedule. This would be the case for projects A and C.
  • Pink area. These projects have consumed more protection than estimated for their degree of progress, so they will not meet the schedule if their performance does not improve or countermeasures are implemented. This would be the case for projects B and F.

This graph allows us to objectively compare the state of the different projects from the point of view of the schedule, and thus determine which of them need additional action to meet the objectives and which are less of a priority. Obviously, from the point of view of the organization, the objective is that all the projects fulfill their objective, which implies that all are in the green and yellow areas.

Based on this, it would be reasonable to pass resources from the green area projects to those in the pink area, and prioritize the latter in case of conflict. In a way, we are "damaging" the projects that are better to "favor" those which are worse, with the aim of all going as expected.

Another important point when it comes to prioritizing projects according to this chart is to view their progress, since a more advanced project will cost more to change their situation than one that is just starting:

  • In the pink area, means that a more advanced project will have higher priority when it comes to receiving resources than one that is less advanced.
  • In the green area, the opposite is true: the more advanced projects are the least priority, since the reduction of resources will have a lower impact on the final result (less time to act).

Prioritization with Earned Value

In projects managed with Earned Value, it is also possible to objectively prioritize and compare their status’, with the advantage being that in this case we can make time and cost comparisons simultaneously through different parameters:

Cost variation (CV), which is calculated as a percentage CV = (EV-AC) / EV, where EV is the earned value and AC is the actual cost, which is used with the following criteria:

  • CV> 0: project is saving money
  • CV = 0: the project is following the planned cost line
  • CV <0: the project presents extra costs.

Schedule variation (SV), which is calculated as SV = (EV - PV) / PV, where EV is the earned value and PV is the planned value, and is used with the following criteria:

  • SV> 0: the project is ahead of schedule.
  • SV = 0: the project is on schedule.
  • SV <0: the project is behind schedule.

Imagine that we have six projects managed with Earned Value, which allows them to be shown together in a chart according to their SV and CV; distinguishing four areas:

  • The pink area (3) shows the projects that are not meeting either the costs or deadlines (projects A and E); which then become the highest priority.
  • The two yellow areas (1 and 4) show the projects that are not meeting one of either cost (project C) or schedule (project B).
  • The green area (2) means that the project is better than planned in relation to cost and time (project F), or is progressing just as planned in point 0.0 (project D)

According to this criterion, the goal of the organization would be to have all projects in the green area. Therefore, the criterion in prioritizing resources would be as follows:

  • Prioritize the use of the most economical resources for projects in areas 3 and 4, which can be done even if it implies a delay in the projects of area 4, since these have more time in terms of schedule.
  • Increase resources for projects in areas 1 and 3 so that they can be completed quicker, even at the expense of higher costs in area 1 projects, taking advantage of having savings on them.
  • This prioritization can be done "at the expense" of the projects in area 2, since these have the margin to delay or assume higher costs. Except the projects in 0,0 which would be better left alone, as they are perfectly on track.

The most complex situation occurs in the projects located in area 3, since these must improve simultaneously both cost and time. This implies that we must avoid improving one variable by lessening the other.

Final considerations on prioritization

So far, the prioritization between projects has been treated objectively and based on quantifiable variables, which is correct but insufficient. In reality, there is another aspect to take into account: the political or commercial interests of the organization.

If we think beyond the time or cost of executing the projects, we see that not all of them are just as important for the organization. In some cases, we will have projects that can generate new orders or have high visibility, which gives them priority. Therefore, the person in charge of managing the portfolio of projects must know these political and commercial aspects, and know how to balance them with the objective criteria.

 

Albert Garriga

 

 

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technology, used for electric circuits. suitable for use on web apps, mobile apps and print media.Making organizational changes in any process, work methodology or project management system is, in itself, a very difficult project to manage. When it comes to internal management, the cost of a failed project is very high, so the margin of error is small. To make matters worse, the response of the people involved in the process makes it difficult to predict and difficult to design change plans that are followed closely.

In fact, it is common for any change, that is outside the organizations’ comfort zone, to cause diverse attitudes among workers and managers, making it difficult to contribute to change in a coordinated and organized way.

 

Some of these attitudes could be summarized in the following sentences:

  • "Our employees are prepared for change in the organization, there is nothing to worry about."

  • "Our company is different. Team members will be able to follow directions while exercising their autonomy. So it is not necessary to intervene in the management of change. They, know how to act better than anyone else."

  • "Things are fine as they are. The changes you want to introduce mean an additional workload that adds to what we already have, so the change cannot be positive."

  • "Workers do not have to be involved in change. We have not even been involved in the choice of new software tools."

All these statements can be refuted with the right arguments. Next, we are going to analyze valid arguments to answer them.

Complementary training programs

Undoubtedly, all the workers in your company are qualified for the work that they perform, so they can take care of it. However, the introduction of new working methodologies requires additional preparation and a strategic vision. So it is desirable to have complementary training programs provided by the company both before the introduction of the changes and during their implementation. These training programs achieve a two objectives at once. On the one hand, they will help the change develop properly, without undertaking useless additional work, since the appropriate orientation will allow for all the efforts and dedicated time to be oriented to achieve an efficient change according to the established plans. On the other hand, providing this training during the change will increase the motivation of the workers.

It is important to learn from real cases in other organizations

The problems that arise in your company have probably been experienced in other contexts, especially if there are similarities in market niche, economic sector, technological development, and so on. Although each company is unique, there are common situations and frequent problems, especially towards certain challenges characteristic of business development. For example, internationalization has very different resistance to change from the introduction of performance evaluation, the opening of a new line of business or the acquisition of another company. In any case, there is no alternative to the analysis of comparable cases. With change management there is no room for experimentation. The successes or failures of other organizations will help avoid mistakes and in turn gain precious time.

Conformity is the main enemy of progress

To be able to improve it is necessary to be open to change. Undoubtedly, at the beginning all changes are an additional effort, but this is necessary to increase efficiency and productivity, essential requirements to remain competitive.

Workers are the main engine of the company...

...Those in charge of taking the company forward. If they don’t feel involved or motivated with the work they do and with the company, it is a serious problem that is above the difficulties to implement a system or project management solution. Regardless of the organizational model, workers must be motivated. Of course, an adequate motivation also contributes to the success in the implementation of any work system.

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So what can we do when there is resistance to change management both by managers and employees? Here are some tips:

It directs the change towards a clear improvement

It identifies the main obstacles to growth and proposes a process of change that achieves more mature and robust management, with clear benefits.

Adjust the exchange rate to your corporate strategy and culture

Before any change, it is best to evaluate exactly its magnitude and where the efforts should be directed. There is nothing worse than making "changes in change", on the fly, because it generates a sense of distrust, of not knowing exactly what is being done, and produces demotivation of employees. If they have tried to change something, this change must appear to be definitive, it must seem that it has been done right at first. Improvising will convey a lack of leadership.

Explain what change really means

Probably, in the initial moments there is a certain resistance. It is normal and is simply based on a certain fear of any change that may occur. Explaining exactly the magnitude of the changes will help to reassure employees or managers and will predispose them to accept them to the best degree.

Demonstrates the advantages of new project management systems using data

If they understand that the change is necessary and that the return will be greater once they have been applied, they will be more willing to perform the initial overexertion.

Using these tips, managing change in your company will be much simpler. What are you waiting for to give a return to your project management?

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2 persons, transfering knowledge from one rain to another oneOne of the greatest challenges of a PMO is to ensure that the experiences generated within a project are extended to the rest of the organization and not lost when the project team dissolves. Even within each project, reaching a knowledge baseline explicitly shared by all key team members can be tricky.

This process of knowledge transfer is specific to project-based organizations and encounters different obstacles to those that characterize the transfer and application of knowledge in the field of R & D, for example.

 

Unfortunately, Project Management Offices can either leave the functions of knowledge transfer in the background or, when they recognize their importance, often do not take an in depth approa Preview ch. To address the problem in its complexity, we recommend starting from the recognition of the main obstacles that prevent the linear flow of knowledge.

According to B. H. Reich, there are 9 obstacles to knowledge transfer between projects:

 1. Lessons Not Learned

The difficulties organizations have in managing their day-to-day projects, starts and ends with this issue. It is true that beyond the records of previous experiences and the guidelines for the project in question, a new and unrepeatable path is undertaken that is not possible to predict, but the lessons learned allow the team to compare and analyze the possible scenarios, as well as Learn from previous situations that made it difficult to achieve the desired results.

Unfortunately, the unrepeatable characteristic of the projects complicates the application of these lessons, which are often transferred through the personal experience of a team member. In order to scale the learning beyond the personal components, it is advisable to:

- work on document repositories that allow for identification of previous similarities

- share the most relevant lessons of projects with characteristics that are going to be repeated, either because they belong to the same line of business, have the same client, or develop in similar markets.

2. Selecting defective equipment

Even if you have a project team with all the necessary competences to deliver a result of sufficient quality, it is possible that there are competencies that are difficult to identify, especially with regards to the accumulated experience, the Know-how of the company and, in the case of projects abroad, the multicultural dimension. Added to this is the fact that whoever carries out the planning will never be an expert in all the technical aspects that must be covered, which may fail to match the requirements with the technical capacity of the team. In this case, even transfer of knowledge internally to the project can seriously fail.

3. Volatile team governance

On this occasion, this is a problem related to project governance. The loss of a member of the governance structure that has a direct bearing on resource orientation and corporate strategies (eg, executive sponsorship or project management) seriously compromises levels of knowledge and stability within company departments based on projects.

4. Lack of function recognition

Project governance is sustained both by management and project sponsors, who must receive the appropriate training to monitor with more discretion. The difficulty is to incorporate top management into the management of knowledge without taking away the authority and the urgency we perceive it in the danger of taking wrong directions because the sponsors may have some inaccuracy or wrong distinction in relation to the project.

5. Inadequate knowledge integration

Large-scale projects require the intertwining of expertise in a number of areas to solve complex problems, to innovate or to transform that knowledge into something greater, thanks to its correct coupling. As we commonly see, there is not a person with the exact key to fit that diverse knowledge appropriately, so there is a risk that the pieces of the puzzle will come together incorrectly, interfering with the result. Given this scenario, project management requires that the directors ensure that effective communication with and among their work teams is maintained, to achieve a successful integration of multifunctional knowledge.

6. Incomplete transfer of knowledge

Often, for the development of a complex and innovative project, that requires the implementation of resources or specialized technical support, project members must go to the suppliers of the organization or interact with a consultant. In such interactions, knowledge transfer should strive to be as transparent as possible, but fears and conflicts of interest between the project team and their knowledge provider often interfere with the process.

Most of the failures that undermine the completion of a project occur because of incomplete knowledge transfer between the team and external consultants or suppliers during design.

This is because the people from the consultancy have the aspiration to receive higher profits, for their intellectual property and recognition of value, so in the first instance they will refuse to sell their knowledge.

Consequently, during the transfer of knowledge, information that is often crucial for the success of the project is omitted and this is not usually discovered until it has failed, which encourages us to go back and evaluate the failure. It is therefore of paramount importance to ascertain the quality of the documentation received by the knowledge provider and to evaluate its quality so that the project manager can make the most appropriate decisions.

7. Loss of Team Members

The fact that a member of the team may leave due to planned or unforeseen circumstances is an intellectual leak of great value for the project, since the time that person has dedicated to the planning and / or design process involves the accumulation of knowledge and skills related to the project and that are irreplaceable. This knowledge disappears once the person leaves.

In order to protect ourselves from the knowledge gaps created by possible losses of team members who are key players for the project, preventive measures should be taken to document knowledge, in order to continue the project with new members. Of course, there will always be some knowledge that stays with the person, which will be irreplaceable.

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8. Lack of a Role Awareness Map

As part of the project management, we highlight the creation of a knowledge map, grouped by role, to serve as a tool so that all members of the team (including the senior positions) can identify who knows what and what skills the team has for the project.

The knowledge map allows us to facilitate the efficient and effective approach to complex problems. Not having one translates into greater difficulties in finding the solution to a given conflict, since it involves the risk of assigning decision making to people whose knowledge is not the most suitable for the type of problem.

Theorists on the subject, such as Crowston and Kammerer, and Faraj and Sproull, have concluded that project teams with a knowledge map can be more effective, focusing mainly on the integration of knowledge.

9. Loss between phases

During the operational processes of the project, the structure and integration of the equipment varies with the passage from one phase to another, so we run the risk of losing valuable knowledge in those changes in composition or transmitting knowledge inadequately. For these cases, traditionally, one uses the techniques of written or graphic documentation, to record the knowledge of a previous phase, useful for the operations of the next phase.

However, in the written record, we often overlook data of great relevance for the optimal development of the new operational phase, such as the rationale of the design or its options. In turn, the interpretations that each team gives to documentation may be altered by the subjective criteria of its members, which leads to errors or delays, while trying to understand why certain decisions were made in the previous phase.

Therefore, as a method of knowledge management within the project management, we recommend integrating multimedia records in the documentation that complementcrucial aspects of the decision making of a phase, as well as manage mining data and networks of experts, so that it is as specific and clear as possible.

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