How to Be a Good Manager

A manager should be a leader, while a leader doesn’t necessarily have to be a manager. A leader can simply be a charismatic figurehead, really. They lead, that is they inspire people to follow them, but they don’t necessarily have the logistical skills to organize.

Leadership is a subset of management. While you don’t have to be a leader to manage a project, if you’re not, the battle is going to be waged uphill. You’ll be at a disadvantage. So, a good manager first and foremost should have those leadership skills to rally the troops and get the project moving forward.

There are good and bad managers, just like there are good and bad leaders. The mark of

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a good manager, as Jennifer said, is to look at what they manage. If they manage an athlete or an actor, a business or whatever, if that person or enterprise is successful, then it had good management.

Think of managers as gatekeepers. They manage time and money, and handle the contractual obligations related to them. A manager takes a person or enterprise from where they are to where they want to be.

Qualities of a Good Manager

  1. Time Management –Time is money, they say, but it is so much more. You have a certain amount of time to do what you must do in a project. Simply put, you have a deadline. A good manager can then manage that timeline and break it down into large phases of the project, called milestones, and then into smaller parts that are called tasks. But it’s not merely creating a plan, it’s also monitoring that process and adjusting accordingly to stay on schedule.
  2. Communication – You can have skills up the wazoo, but without the ability to clearly and effectively communicate these ideas, you’re dead in the water. Communications isn’t giving orders, though that’s part of it. Communications is a two-way street, with as much emphasis on listening as there is on talking. If you can get your message across then you’re working efficiently, and won’t be wasting time on the backend fixing what should have been done right on the frontend.
  3. Conflict Resolution – Put two people together and they’re eventually going to disagree. That’s normal. Put a team together and there will be conflicts, which you’ll have to resolve those conflicts fairly and quickly to keep the project on track. This is a tricky skill because you don’t want to simply use your authority or risk resentments. You should allow people to be heard and create an environment where people come together for the greater good of the project.
  4. Team Building – It’s one thing to assemble a team, it’s another to create a unit that works together seamlessly. That takes time and effort. Some people might just adhere like glue and get down to work. If you every have a team like that, tell us, because they’re likely hanging out with Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. But seriously, individuals can work in groups, but not without some real bonding through team-building exercises. If you put this work in before the project, you’ll have less issues during its run.

Be that leader!

Read more on project management:

Project Risk

What Makes Communication Plans Effective

 

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What Makes A Communication Plan Effective

Start with the Background

Before effective communications can start, you should have a clear picture of what exactly it is that you’re communicating. By describing the project landscape, so to speak, you know what your parameters are, and it’ll help you get buy-in from the stakeholders and your team.

Start with a project vision and its objectives. What are they? Jot them down. This is the loadstar you’ll follow throughout your project, so you want to have them clearly defined from the start and remind people throughout the project the importance of this mission.

Next, you must assign an owner to the communication process. If you have too many

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people responsible for communications, then your message is scattered and less effective. Pick that person and provide them with the right tool or tools, such as chat, email, text, etc.

You’re also going to need a review method in place to monitor the effectiveness of your communications. This way, if your metrics show that you’re not getting a message across to those who need to hear it, you can tweak the process before it negatively impacts the whole project.

And you’re going to want to record the measurement process after you close out the project. Now you have a record of how well your communication plan worked and where it fell short, so you can address those issues when developing a communication plan for your next project.

Analyze the Situation

What are strengths and weakness in your plan? You might have a team that is very tightknit and communicates easily. But maybe stakeholders are not happy with the method you’ve chosen to communicate the project’s progress with them?

These strengths and weaknesses are not etched in stone. They can be springboards of opportunity, and you should use them as such. Now you have a chance to improve your communications. Be aware of all strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and even threats to your communication process, and record them all.

Make the right plan.

Read more on project management:

Mind Mapping

Scope Management

 

 

Project Risk

Project risk is defined as an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives such as scope, schedule, cost, and quality.

The aim of project risk management is to identify and minimize the impact that risks have on a project. The challenge with risk management of any kind is that risks are uncertain events. In the management of projects, and the subsequent operations of the

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project’s product, organizations attempt to reduce their exposure to these uncertain events through risk management. This is usually done through a formal management process which consists of the following steps: plan risk management, identify risks, perform qualitative risk analysis, perform quantitative risk analysis, plan risk responses, and control risks (Project Management Institute, 2009).

There is some debate as to the origins of the word risk, but it is commonly accepted that the ancient Greek word “ριζα” (pronounced “riza”) meaning “root, stone, cut of the firm land,” made its way to the Latin word riscus, which means “cliff.” The original Greek word was a metaphor for “difficulty to avoid in the sea,” and ancient mariners, picking their way through the numerous islands in the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Tyrrhenian seas, were quite familiar with the meaning and impact of the word. The word was later borrowed by the Italians as the word rischo and rischio, then by the French as risque, and on to Spanish as riesgo. In the 16th century, the word was adopted by middle-high-German as Rysigomeaning “to dare; to undertake; to hope for economic success.” It is believed that the Anglicized form comes from either the French or Italian words (Handzy, 2012).

Project risk management is a well-defined field of study, and numerous books and papers have been written about it. Risk analysis is broadly split into two areas (i.e., qualitative risk analysis, and quantitative risk analysis). Of these two, qualitative risk analysis is most common, and on many projects, it is the only risk analysis that is done. Quantitative risk assessments (QRAs) on projects are less common, often because insufficient data about the project are available to perform the assessment. In some cases, the effort required to perform the QRA may be too expensive relative to the total project value, and the project team may decide against it.

Manage risk.

Read more on project management:

Work Breakdown Structure

Beyond The Triple Constraints

 

Scope Management

Revised An Introduction to Project Management, fourth edition explains that Project Scope Management involves defining and controlling what work is or is not included in a project. The main planning processes for project scope management include planning scope management, collecting requirements, defining scope and creating the work breakdown structure (WBS).

Planning Scope Management is one of the most important steps in project scope management. At this stage, the project team determine how the project scope will be

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defines, validated and controlled. The PMBOK Guide, fifth edition defines requirements as “conditions or capabilities that must be met by the project or present in the product, services or result to satisfy an agreement or other formally imposed specifications.” Documenting requirements are important so that we can measure them during project execution. The outputs of collecting requirements include the requirements traceability matrix (RTM).

It is very crucial to define your scope in a project because what is not measured cannot be managed. Scope of a project refers to a set of deliverables or features of a project. These deliverables are derived from the projects requirements. The PMPBOK defines project scope as “the work that needs to be accomplished to deliver a product, services or result with the specific features and functions.” Defining your scope also helps you to improve accuracy of time, cost and resource management. One important thing we should try to manage is scope creep. It is the tendency of the scope of the project increasing. Some techniques use in defining scope include expert judgement, product analysis and alternating identification.

A work breakdown structure (WBS) involves grouping the work or task in the project that defines the entire scope of the project. It breaks down the work into discrete tasks with timeline associated to it and puts them in a sequential hierarchy. The lowest level of the WBS is the work package. There are various software for creating the WBS. The most popular of them all is the Microsoft Project.

Stop Scope Creep.

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Lessons Learned Document

Mind Mapping

 

 

Lessons Learned Document

Project Management Institute (PMI) Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) defines lessons learned as the learning gained from the process of performing the project. Formally conducted lessons learned sessions are traditionally held during project close-out, near the completion of the project. I want to examine some of the best practices in preparing lessons learned document along with how they can help an organization in improving its project performance.

Store your lessons learned document in a central repository in your organization. This

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makes it easier for other project teams to access them whenever it is required. Many organizations have an online portal for document sharing—think SharePoint, Google Docs, OneDrive, or another centralized network location.

Solicit feedback from all stakeholders. Consider conducting a post-project survey to solicit feedback on the project from the project team, customers, and stakeholders who were well acquainted with the management of the project. This helps in capturing the lessons learned in the project while they are fresh in people’s minds. You could summarize the results and pass the recommendations to future teams.

Archive your lessons learned documents. Lessons learned documents should be archived as historical project data and incorporated into organizational lessons learned. Reuse lessons in your project. You’ll learn in PMP certification training that you should reuse lessons learned from past projects to better manage your current projects.

Create lessons learned throughout the project. You can save quite a bit of time by collecting them as you go along. Then, when the project is finished, you can finalize them during project closing or the project phase closing. This is one of the best ways to ensure that they are accurately recorded.

Identify Items in lessons learned Sessions. Consider holding regular brainstorming sessions with the team to unearth lessons that are valuable to the project. As we’ve discussed, this can help promote the success of future projects. It’s best not to leave it until the end of the project when memories have faded.

Include all your experiences. Be sure to should include positive as well as negative experiences in the lessons learned document to add the highest value to all the future projects in the organization.

Always put down your lessons learned.

Read more on project management:

Project Quality Management

Why do Projects Failed

Mind Mapping

Plan

Plan your schedules, meetings, briefs and proposals in a new and more efficient way with Mind Maps. You can divide up topics and tasks into different branches, adding sub-topics and smaller, related tasks as child branches. Then you can draw connections between related tasks, see how different projects impact each other and priorities you time accordingly. Make ‘To Do’ lists, plan your weekly schedules, construct a three-month marketing plan or set goals for the year. A Mind Map is the perfect space to organize and group information in a clear and coherent way – cover all aspects in one place, from agendas and objectives, to resources and locations, so you can stay organized and on the ball.

Consolidate

With a Mind Map you can consolidate a vast range of information, and with the iMindMap software you can take this to a multimedia level with anything from

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spreadsheets to websites to audio files. With all the relevant information at your fingertips, all in one Mind Map, you are in control and can save hours of time. You can throw in all the documents and links relating to a specific project you’re working on, attaching files to the relevant branch of your project map. You have complete control in iMindMap and the potential to create your own library of information that is easily navigated and all on one screen. Integrating new data or amending existing data is simple as you aren’t tied to a rigid structure – a Mind Map is a living document.

Problem Solve:

Find innovative solutions with a tool that provides a space for exploring relationships between the various facets of a problem and inspires creative and critical thinking. By creating a Mind Map you can view all the elements of a problem at once – stimulating creative association and integration. The process acts as a trigger device for your creativity and encourages your brain to track out ideas which normally lie in obscurity at the edge of your thinking. The iMindMap software gives you complete freedom to manipulate and draw connections between your ideas, without interrupting your train of thought. If you’ve ever felt like your hitting your head against a brick wall trying to figure out a solution or come up with a new idea, you need to try Mind Mapping!

Collaborate

Collaborate with others to develop plans or implement key projects. A Mind Map allows you to harness the input of all members of a group in a dynamic and creative way and is proven to enhance critical thinking. Contributions can be added to the relevant branches and either explored further, or put on hold for later discussion. With iMindMap Ultimate, you can also capture audio notes and attach them to your map to ensure no comment is missed without losing the momentum of the discussion.

Always put it on paper

Read more on project management:

Triple Constraints

Beyond the Triple Constraint

 

Tripple Constraints

Everything we do in life is carried out under certain constraints, likewise projects. All projects are carried out under certain constraints. Traditionally, these constraints are cost, scope and time. Projects must be delivered within scope, time and cost. All projects have finite budget. The project sponsor is willing to spend a finite amount of money for the delivery of the project (new services and products). Every project sponsor expects the project to be delivered within the estimated budget for the project.

Project time management looks at controlling the amount of time it takes to do the work. The knowledge area of time management typically refers to the skills, tools, and techniques used to manage time when accomplishing specific tasks, projects and goals.

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Some ways you can manage project time is to define activities, sequences the activities, estimate activity resources and develop and control the schedule. Defining the activity step requires you to define the tasks, milestones, and other activities needed to complete the project. Start with a basic definition of each task and fill in the details as the project gets fleshed out. A Gannt chart is a simple and quick way to outline the entire project.

Sequencing the activities can be started by putting the activities in order. Without worrying about dates, order the activities, order activities in a way that makes the most sense. Create subtasks as needed and organize the project in a logical manner. Once you have the activities in order, you can add dependencies to each task. Estimating activity resources is one of the more challenging steps because it requires you to assess the supply and demand of each resource and how it relates to your specific project. Assign specific people or job roles to each task and then revise the dependencies bases on the resource allocation. You should develop and control the schedule.

Project scope is the part of project planning that involves determine and documenting a list of specific project goals, deliverables, features, functions, tasks, deadlines, and ultimately costs. In other words, it is what needs to be achieved and the work that must be done to deliver a project. Cost management is concerned with the process of planning and controlling the budget of a project or business. It includes activities such as planning, estimating, budgeting, financing, funding, managing, and controlling costs so that the project can be completed within the approved budget.

Time is money.

Read more on project management:

Work Breakdown Structure

Communication

 

Beyond the triple constraints

While there is much that has been written about triple constraints, little research has been conducted to determine trends associated with other constraints. Other constraints that affect project management include;

Project efficiency: As noted, the triple constraints are helpful, but it is important to recognize that they are not, individually nor collectively, the measures of a successful project. There are, however, tools for project managers to more efficiently manage

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project work. As noted in the PMBOK®Guide (PMI, 2008), they are three among many tools for this type work. The PMBOK® Guide notes the need to balance the following project constraints: scope, quality, schedule, budget, resources, and risk (p. 6). Moreover, it is noted that balancing constraints is not limited to these alone, but rather these should be integrated along with critical constraints and success measures of the organization and project stakeholders.

Program efficiency: Many projects that are initiated today are part of a larger program. The importance of the project efficiency is heightened when part of a program. Program success is measured with different metrics as compared to project success. To be sure, for programs to be successful, the projects of the program must be successful, but the measurement data, reporting, and decision-making is different. In a simplistic form, projects are much more tactical and aligned with a business function whereas the program success is determined at a more organizational strategy level and organizational level goals.

Portfolio efficiency: Because all organizations have capacity limitations when it comes to money, talent, time, and other resources, working on the right projects at the right time with the right resources is paramount. As such, there are portfolio concerns and measures that must be used to determine “success.”

Organizational business results: This finding is akin to what Cohen (2001) noted in his PMI Symposium “Beyond the triple constraints: Developing a business venture approach to project management.” According to him, the triple constraints must be augmented to include a project’s overall contribution to organizational value to determine success.

Teamwork: Project teams are often developed and disbanded based on the project. Part of “success” determination today is how well the team functions. Those that deliver their product and in doing so develop a stronger bond of working with one another, wanting to work with one another, and working toward high performance are successful. Anything to the contrary risks not only the project’s success, but importantly the future success of projects and the organization. Team building, and teamwork cannot be underestimated.

Individual development: As noted in teamwork, developing high performance is a requisite success factor among organizational and project personnel. Similarly, individual development is also a success factor today. Many project team members today find themselves working initiatives that are unique and in which current conditions have not been experienced to date. Such conditions cause the constant need for learning and development. As such, individual development is a success factor on projects today. This development creates the need to foster mentorships (often across projects) and to have personal development goals understood by the project team so as to support one another with individual tasks, team tasks, and organizational deliverables in a way that learning becomes acculturated by project and organizational personnel.

PMO development: Successful projects contribute intellectual capital to the organization’s PMO. This capital can be in the form of lessons learned, tools, templates, training, and other codified value that helps serve to expedite future projects and shorten learning curves for new employees and veteran employees working new initiatives. This success determinant is grounded in the need not only to learn (at an individual and team level), but importantly, to share that learning for the success of others.

Performance management system for increased readiness: The need for learning is rooted in the idea of readiness. Project teams and organizations at large must work toward flexibility and plasticity when it comes to addressing pressures to change. A critical component in doing so is being opening to measuring performance. Thus, each project should be testing and updating (or validating) a performance management system that aligns project work to programs to portfolios to business results and include individual, team, and PMO level development activities. Constantly measuring actual performance against a target goal and benchmark will help highlight areas of strengths and weaknesses from which better decisions can be made at an individual, team, and organizational level. Moreover, the use of such systems helps to spotlight and expedite periods of change.

Systems thinking: The prior success determinates allude to the need for systems thinking. Net benefits need to be understood—that is, net benefits of customers and other key stakeholders all the way back to the project manager responsible for the project.

Take charge.

Read more on project management:

Lessons Learned

Project Risk Management

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

A work breakdown structure (WBS) is a tool that organizes team’s work into manageable sections. It is a deliverable oriented hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team. It breaks the project scope into manageable chunks that is understandable by the project team. Each level of work to be performed is broken down so everyone knows his/her role in the project. An easy way to visualize the WBS is to see it as an outline of the project.

The work breakdown structure is usually created by the project manager. The project manager identifies the functional deliverables and subdividing those deliverables into smaller systems and sub-deliverables. These sub-deliverables are further decomposed until a single person can be assigned. This chunk is referred to as the work packages. A work package refers to the list of tasks or to-do-lists to produce a specific unit of work.

The work breakdown structure has several benefits in addition to defining and organizing the project work. A project budget can be allocated to the top levels of the

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work breakdown structure, and department budgets can be quickly calculated based on each project’s work breakdown structure. By allocating time and cost estimates to specific sections of the work breakdown structure, a project schedule and budget can be quickly developed. As the project executes, specific sections of the work breakdown structure can be tracked to identify project cost performance and identify issues and problem areas in the project organization.

Project work breakdown structures can also be used to identify potential risks in a given project. If a work breakdown structure has a branch that is not well defined, then it represents a scope definition risk. These risks should be tracked in a project log and reviewed as the project executes. By integrating the work breakdown structure with an organizational breakdown structure, the project manager can also identify communication points and formulate a communication plan across the project organization.

The following guidelines should be considered when creating a work breakdown structure:

  • The top level represents the final deliverable or project
  • Sub-deliverables contain work packages that are assigned to a organization’s department or unit
  • All elements of the work breakdown structure don’t need to be defined to the same level
  • The work package defines the work, duration, and costs for the tasks required to produce the sub-deliverable
  • Work packages should not exceed 10 days of duration
  • Work packages should be independent of other work packages in the work breakdown structure
  • Work packages are unique and should not be duplicated across the work breakdown structure

Use the right tool for the right task!

Read more on project management:

Characteristics of a good project report

Program tools