Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Project Management Lessons from Nelson Mandela

As we reflect on the life of former South African president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela, we should take a moment to consider three powerful lessons from his leadership that are relevant for project managers today.

Leadership is behavioral, not positional. Even though he only served as South Africa’s president for five years, Mandela is an example of how one can lead without formal authority. Over the 27 years he was imprisoned, he exerted influence, and over his five-year presidency, he exerted influence. In the decade and a half following his retirement from politics, Mandela’s influence grew as a global humanitarian and philanthropist.

The capacity to integrate, motivate, and mobilize others to bring a common aspiration to life is what leadership is all about. This simple truth gives hope to the millennial generation that leadership isn’t an activity relegated to the distant c-suite; good can be done at every stage of one’s career. It can serve to reignite the passion of the mid-career professional – somebody is watching, learning from, and emulating your example, regardless of who recognizes or ignores your contributions.

Choose collaboration over retaliation. In the face of conflict, many leaders in organizations develop an instinctive default response – they choose to either collaborate or retaliate. Retaliating against one’s opponents can be a gratifying primal reaction, but in the networked global marketplace, it is a short-sighted, losing strategy. Retaliation deepens divides; collaboration heals them. Retaliation perpetuates ignorance; collaboration promotes learning and progress.

Mandela honed his collaborative instinct before becoming South Africa’s first black president, assembling a multiracial leadership team to combat apartheid as head of the African National Congress. He knew how to listen and leverage insights of others. He also understood the power of choosing to forgive those who have wronged you and seeking reconciliation with those you have wronged. Research and experience show that the collaboration instinct revolutionizes markets, enhances organizations, and enriches lives.

Never give up on seemingly impossible idea. Mandela is often quoted saying “it always seems impossible until it’s done.”  His perseverance in the face of inhumane persecution shows us that the impossible will remain impossible if men and women of purpose fail to summon the courage to do what’s right. Accomplishing anything worth talking about or remembering will involve opposition and setback, which is why big ideas die in organizations every day.

Cultivating an organization that stands for and embodies grand ideals is worth fighting for. Growing a team that does the right thing when nobody is watching is worth fighting for. If Mandela teaches us anything, it’s to commit our lives and our practice of leadership to pushing for the seemingly impossible.

About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big DesignCustomers 1st, and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts 2014 Call for Presenters Now Open

Papers are being accepted on a rolling basis, we suggest your proposal as early as possible. If this is something you're interested in considering, please let us know as sessions fill up quickly. Submit your proposal no later than Friday, December 20th to Romina Kunstadter, Conference Producer at or 646.895.7453.

The Institute for International Research (IIR) is currently seeking corporate practitioners, authors and experienced facilitators to present at the 2014 ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts conference.

The event will take place in September 22-24, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.

About this Unique Event
PW&WCBA is the industry's year round resource for gaining cutting-edge insights through C-Level case studies & corporate best practice presentations, exclusive Web Seminars, Learning Labs, and facilitated sharing sessions.  

Who & What We're Looking For
Leaders of high profile, complex projects to share their story in an open forum with industry peers. We are also inviting highly experienced, unbiased project managers, program managers, portfolio managers, PMO heads, system engineers and business analysts. We are particularly interested in experienced corporate practitioners, industry experts and qualified facilitators sharing innovative case studies, techniques, templates that attendees can implements as soon as they get back to the office.

Each presentation should demonstrate actionable tangible takeaways. We are looking for presentations that will demonstrate how something went from concept to reality (what were the decisions you had to make along the way, why did you choose that route, what did you learn from it, what if anything would you do differently, what can the audience learn, where do you go from here?).

Please note: Decisions will be based on the alignment of the content with the 2014 agenda content, feedback from the event advisors as well as on industry recognition and/or personal references. 

We Expect Our Speakers to Move Beyond the Fundamentals

2014 presentation topics include, but are not limited to:
Managing Stakeholder Expectations
Leveraging Portfolio Project Management Tools
Education & Training for New PM's- Passing down the knowledge
Integration PM
Setting up a Project Office
Communication Across Roles (Organization)
Using Agile to Implement Larger Multi Web Projects
Tools Used with Agile
Moving from BA to PM
Discovering What Metrics you Need
Lean Projects: A Case Study
PM & BA Collaboration
Risk Management
Program & Portfolio Management
Effective Teams: How to build them
Cyber Security
Big Data & Analytics
PMBOK Changes
Dealing with Stakeholders and Sponsors
Integrating Contracted People into an Ongoing Project
Creative Problem Solving
Collaborative Problem Solving
Honing Your PM Skills
Understanding The Business Ecosystem
The Move: Agile to Waterfall
Convan Vs Agile
Process Management
Developing BA Skills
Effective Data Modeling
State Modeling
BA's in A Global Environment
Capturing Non functional requirements
Shadow IT and how to make sure you remain a partner
Managing to scale
Tailor BA function in an onshore vs offshore environment
Systems Integration
What's New in Agile?
Agile, Tools and Metric Tracking
Cloud Risk: Managing the Risk and Rewards of Cloud Computing
Defining and Developing the Next Generation of PMs
Improving the Value of Your PMO
IT Portfolio Management
Soft Leadership Skills
Risk Management
Building Program Management Expertise
Motivating Teams and Increasing Team Performance
Creating a Center of Excellence (Both BA and/or PM)
Demonstrating the Current Value of Project Management and Business Analysis to Your Organization
Career Paths for the BA and PM - Where Do You Go After 5 Years?
Using Six Sigma and LEAN to Improve Project Management
Requirements Management and Communication
Leading Global Teams
Change Management
Reading Verbal and Non-Verbal Cues
Virtual Engagement
Lightweight Project Management Tools vs. Heavyweight
Enterprise Analysis
Enterprise Architecture
Negotiation Skills for Dealing with Suppliers
Agile Project Management
A Systematic Approach to Increase Business Process Performance
Improving Service Levels with Your Stakeholders
Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring
Developing a PM Toolkit: The Essentials
Implementing a Portfolio Management
Estimating and Identification of Requirements
Business Rules: An Important Technique to Capture and Discover What You Need
Green Practices for the PM and BA
Getting the Benefits of Consolidating, But Without Doing So
The Current and Future State of the BA
Agile: Governance and Decision-Making
Sustainable Portfolio Management Practices
Development Techniques that are Flexible and Responsive
SOA Governance
Integrating the Business Architecture with Human Performance

BONUS: In addition to the exposure and honor of being a speaker, speakers will also FREE admission to the conference, access to post-conference web seminar series as well as any pre-conference activities (a $3,000+ value).

How to Get Accepted
Priority will be given to presentations that highlight NEW case studies on pushing beyond the PMBOK and BABOK, presenting new skills, techniques and best practices for today's PM and BA worlds. ONLY corporate/client-side speaker will be considered. If you are a consultant, solution provider, technology provider, analyst or consultant, please see sponsorship/exhibit section below.

Sponsorship & Exhibition Opportunities

If you are a vendor or solution provider and are interested in showcasing your organization's expertise - Please contact Jon Saxe, Senior Business Development Manager at or 646.895.7467 for more information.

If you were not selected to present and are a vendor or solution provider, you may qualify for additional speaking opportunities available through sponsorship.

Submission Guidelines
Please submit the following to Romina Kunstadter, Conference Producer at no later than Friday, December 20, 2013.

For proper consideration, please include the following information with your proposal:

  • Proposed speaker name(s), job title(s), and company name(s)
  • Contact information including address, telephone and e-mail
  • Title and objective of presentation
  • Please indicate which topic you plan to address and please indicate what is NEW about the presentation
  • Summary of the talk
  • What the audience will gain from your presentation (please list 3-5 key "take-aways")
  • NEW FOR THIS YEAR: Please submit a short video telling us why you want to speak at PW&WCBA 2014

If your submission is selected, portions of your bio and summary will be used to promote your participation. In an effort to ensure the utmost quality, all final presentations will be subject to review by our content review board one month prior to the event. 

Additional Details
  • Commercialism and self-promotion are NOT permitted or tolerated. If this happens, you will NOT be invited to return as a speaker.
  • Travel, lodging and other expenses are the responsibility of the speaker.

Interested in Becoming a Media Partner or Featured Event Blogger?
Contact Kacey Anderson, Marketing Manager at

Due to the high volume of response, we are unable to respond to each submission. All those selected to participate as speakers will be notified shortly after the deadline.

Thank you for your interest in ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts. We look forward to receiving your proposal!

The PW&WCBA Team
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

5 Sci-Fi Project Management Lessons

As we navigate our crazy, busy lives, we tend to watch TV and movies to escape. We don’t necessarily think of movies as a way to get advice on how to succeed as project managers. But, maybe we should!  According to Intuit, here is some project  management advice from Sci-Fi movies you may have seen: 

Star Trek
In “Remember Me,” an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, crewmembers of the Enterprise are dropping. And as the crew’s complement dwindles down to one, only Dr. Beverly Crusher remembers them.  Rather than give in to the oblivion of a fugue state, she decides to apply logic: “If there’s nothing wrong with me, maybe there’s something wrong with the universe.” After asking the computer questions, Beverly pieces together the puzzle.

Thinking outside the box is a good way to spot problems in a project’s design. And sometimes the bigger the problem the harder it is to spot. It’s valuable to challenge your assumptions as your project progresses, especially while there’s time to make adjustments.

Policeman Alex Murphy was minding his own business when he was killed by a crazed cocaine dealer, and later served as the prototype for Robocop. Using Murphy’s memories, Robocop tracks down the man responsible for his murder who turns out to be OCP’s senior president Dick Jones. When Robocop reveals Dick’s involvement, Dick grabs OCP’s chairman hostage. He shouts, “Dick, you’re fired.” With that, Robocop became free to prejudice Dick with a Beretta 93R Auto 9.

Even if your first project goes down in flames, it doesn’t mean that a better project can’t be built out of its remains. It helps to think of any project as the prototype to come after. Also, agile thinking can save many a project in a crisis. If you’ve been challenging your assumptions, you can come up with flashes of insight when that awkward question comes up in the board presentation. Project managers have to think on their feet. Just don’t rely on quick thinking as a substitute for actually having a project plan.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy always worked the night shift, but in the episode “Doublemeat Palace,” she has to take on a day job. The only place that will hire someone with no visible skills? A fast food chain. Buffy is soon fired. When Buffy, asks for her job back, Buffy’s manager Lorraine rehires her and dishes out motivation. Pointing to her “5 years” button, Lorraine tells her, “I want you to be shooting for this from here on out.”

Motivating your team members is one of the most important things you can do. An interested contributor does better work, and that’s true whether she is your star performer or just working on the line.

Batman Begins
Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy, hasn’t had much time to spend at the office of Wayne Enterprises, or even in Gotham itself, what with all his training to become an ice ninja. When he returns, he sees how his father’s company has been run by CEO William Earle. Earle even fired Lucius Fox for questioning the disappearance of a microwave emitter. which implies that Earle knew more about the Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul’s psychotropic toxin than the movie admitted to. Bruce fires Earle and puts Fox in charge, where he’ll be doing double-duty as CEO and Batman’s version of Q.

Team building is harder than it looks because even the most talented people can mix like oil and fire if the chemistry is off. Don’t be afraid to reassign the best people to other projects if they’re not a good fit for the others on the team It’s nobody’s fault if a team-up doesn’t work.

Hot on the heels of realizing that ghosts do indeed exist, three scientists quickly lose their university funding, their laboratories, and, in Dr. Peter Venkman’s case, the chance to score with naive college girls. But Venkman’s plan is to go into business, “professional paranormal investigations and eliminations.”

That weird idea that nobody else in the organization believes in? Project managers don’t always direct the course of the company, but if you can identify an interesting project, you can bring it to the attention of people who do. 
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Thursday, November 28, 2013

In the Spirit of Giving Thanks…Several Things for Which Business Analysts are Grateful

So, let’s be real here…The list of things for which we have to be thankful is endless.  Furthermore, there are a number of items on this list (like life, health, family, freedom, and so forth) that precede the particulars of our profession.  In this season (and dare I say in any season), however, we should give thanks in all areas of our lives.  Accordingly, here are just a few things for which business analysis practitioners can be grateful. 

1.       A more solidified discipline - Thanks in large part to the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), business analysis practitioners now reap the benefits of a defined (and commonly agreed upon) discipline.  This more solidified discipline facilitates many of the other items on the list.  Thank you IIBA (and all supporting business analysis practitioners) for helping to move our profession forward!

2.       Companies that understand the value of business analysis – Even well-seasoned practitioners face certain obstacles in organizations where there is no fundamental understanding (and support) of the business analysis discipline.  While the seasoned practitioner may find ways to overcome these obstacles, it is truly a pleasure to work with organizations who do understand business analysis and the value it can bring. Thank you organizations (profit and non-profit alike) who understand and support our discipline!

3.       Business stakeholders who want to be involved - Of course it is part of the practitioner’s responsibility to find ways to engage stakeholders.  However, it sure is nice to work with stakeholders who are not only passionate about what they do, but are motivated to give the input necessary to help us help them.   Thank you passionate stakeholders!

4.       Collaborative teams – Although a skilled practitioner may find a way to get the job done in spite of a team not working well together, it is far better to work in a collaborative environment.  Recall a previous article called “Marshmallow, Spaghetti Sticks and String…Oh My! How to Encourage BA and PM Collaboration.”  The article recapped some of the keys to collaboration between business analysis and project management practitioners, as originally shared by Paula Bell in her interactive conference session “Let’s Collaborate Not Tolerate…”  Although the session (and subsequent article) focused on the BA and PM relationship, collaboration with others on the team is also very important.  Thank you collaborative team members!

5.       The opportunity to learn and grow as a professional - It may be hard to imagine, but there was a time when business analysis training (as we now know it) was scarce.   Now, there are numerous courses, webinars, conferences and more to help all levels of practitioners - from the neophyte who is trying to grasp the basics to the seasoned professional who desires to explore more advanced concepts and techniques.  Thank you training providers for supporting us in continually improving!

These are just a few of the things for which business analysis practitioners can be thankful.  Certainly this list could be longer.  So, as a practitioner, for what things are you thankful?  In the spirit of the season, feel free to share items from your list here in the comments.  Happy Thanksgiving! 

Belinda Henderson, CBAP, PSM
Blogger, Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The History of Project Management

If project management is defined as the act of assembling people to systematically achieve a shared goal, then it has existed for many many years. Despite new method developments and technology changes over time, project management has kept its core goal intact: to deliver successful projects in a clear and effective way.

The video below, produced by the Association for Project Management's (APM), celebrates four amazing decades of the project management profession. Narrated by APM president Dr Martin Barnes CBE, this short film takes you on a journey through the most significant projects over the last forty years and showcases how integral project management was to their success

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Agile Project Management: 3 Steps to Better Spring Planning & Execution

Traditional project management involves very disciplined planning and control methods. With this approach, distinct project life cycle phases are easily recognizable. Tasks are completed one after another in an orderly sequence, requiring a significant part of the project to be planned up front. This type of project management assumes that events affecting the project are predictable and that tools and activities are well understood. But as we all know, this is not always the reality.

Today, business processes are more complex and interconnected than ever before. Additionally, they reject traditional organizational structures and involve complex communities comprised of alliances with strategic suppliers, outsourcing vendors, networks of customers, partnerships and even competitors. Through these alliances, organizations are able to address the pressures of unprecedented change, global competition, time-to-market compression, rapidly changing technologies at every turn.

This is why teams often turn to agile project management – a fast and flexible process that rides on the principles of change, uncertainty and making realistic estimates. agile project management is emerging in the industry as it is a highly iterative and incremental process, where developers and project stakeholders actively work together to understand the domain, identify what needs to be built, and prioritize functionality. This approach consists of many rapid iterative planning and development cycles, allowing a project team to constantly evaluate the evolving product and obtain immediate feedback from users or stakeholders. The team learns and improves the product, as well as their working methods, from each successive cycle.

Here are three steps to produce a successful sprint-length project, from the planning process to final execution:

3 Steps to Better Agile Project Management – An infographic by the team at LiquidPlanner

Share Your Thoughts!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Get Ready for Enterprise Project Management

Many high-growth organizations find themselves outgrowing their existing project management practice and tools. With a growing portfolio, project information becomes more and more scattered pushing the capacity of resources beyond their limits. The project management leader inherits the responsibility of project delivery without the appropriate tools in place to deliver the desired results demanded from their stakeholders. So, these organizations arrive at a fork in the road and are faced with the decision to either scaling back their project intake to align with their current capabilities or change their approach by adopting an Enterprise Project Management (EPM) system.

For project-centric organizations looking to incorporate an EPM strategy in their practice, it is recommended to adopt an approach in which the organization as a whole is plugged into the improved ways of tracking, accessing and sharing project information. EPM takes a holistic approach to managing all projects with great consideration given to their impact on the people, processes and corporate objectives. The idea is to develop a project management environment where projects are treated as a group of interrelated goals that are linked to a single group of people with finite availability and talent.

EPM focuses on a single project’s success within the context of other competing projects and resources, which means the focus on successful scheduling, planning, execution and delivery must consider the success of all projects impacting an organization. At the core of EPM, project-centric organizations need to implement a holistic approach of managing projects within the context of all the activities performed. So, a successful EPM strategy includes enterprise wide buy-in, inclusive processes and a far reaching EPM platform to deliver the 360 degree view across the organizations. The goal of EPM should be to transform your project management practice into a formalized process with a well-defined framework and best practices guidelines.

Many organizations are too late in discovering they are ready for EPM. Like many businesses, initially project management is a means to an end to either deliver what was sold to customers or to deliver the infrastructure to keep up with a growing business. In a typical reactive mode, those “running” the projects realize that they cannot keep up with the pace and are faced with the reality that a change to their processes need to mature in order to deliver the quality results that customers demand.  Although recognizing their growth and taking this first step toward a more mature practice, technology is only one piece of the EPM puzzle.

In order to take a more proactive approach to streamlining your project management practice, consider a EPM Readiness checklist, according to The Project Management Hut:

  • Does your organization have a growing portfolio of projects impacting the bottom line?

Do not wait until your project pipeline becomes unmanageable. If you are in a high growth industry where projects are central to your success, you should incorporate an EPM strategy earlier.
  • Does your project pipeline exceed the abilities of your current resources?

The moment your pipeline of projects is approaching your capacity of resources and EPM strategy needs to be considered. People are the cornerstone to successful projects and preparing your EPM resource plan before it becomes an issue can avoid future losses.
  • Do you leverage any industry best practices?

Getting ready for EPM means you need to build a project management best practices approach to delivering projects. Formalizing your approach builds the ideal culture for the success of EPM in the organization.
  • Do you have a formal process in place?

Establishing a formal process builds the structure to support an EPM strategy. A framework should engage the whole organization so that the holistic philosophy of EPM is setup for success.
  • Are your existing tools falling short?

The best indicator you need to look at EPM solutions is when your existing tools lag in delivering the information to hit project timelines and manage your distribution of work among resources.
  • Do you have executive buy-in for change?

With the introduction of any new EPM process or technology the change management question cannot be ignored. Including a change management component from the top down can mean the difference between the success and failure of EPM.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

20 Reasons Your Project Planning is Taking Too Long

"Project planning" is one of the most misunderstood terms in project management. It is a set of living documents that can be expected to change over the life of the project. Like a road map, it provides the direction for the project. And like the traveler, the project manager needs to set the course for the project. Just as a driver may encounter road works or new routes to the final destination, the project manager may need to correct the project course. 

These days, many organizations spending too much time in project planning. If you want to be agile, you need to deliver software. Planning helps get you there but it can also get in the way if you over do it. According to Founder and President of DAMICON Vin D’Amico, here are 20 ways to tell if your company is spending too much time planning the project, and not enough time delivering it.
  1. The business stakeholders are asking “Is the software done yet?” and you’re still planning.
  2. The requested delivery date for the software passes and you’re still planning.
  3. You spend more time in planning meetings than you do with your family.
  4. Every time you go to a planning meeting, you meet new people.
  5. You have to schedule meetings to plan the planning meetings.
  6. You call meetings but no one shows up any more.
  7. You’ve revised the planning documents at least 5 times.
  8. The planning documents are so complex you create a taxonomy to organize them
  9. The planning document set is so large you can’t use email to distribute it.
  10. Everyone answers “I’ll get back to you.” to information requests yet no one ever does.
  11. Writing the code is expected to take 4 weeks yet the planning has dragged on for 6.
  12. People assigned to work on the project are being re-assigned.
  13. Writing your risk management plan has become a project in itself.
  14. The name of the project has changed at least twice.
  15. Your email distribution list is so long you need Constant Contact to manage it.
  16. Every time you print your planning documents the printer runs out of toner.
  17. The same issues, discussions and debates occur over and over again.
  18. The development team spends more time playing video games than writing code.
  19. The business, tired of waiting, shows you prototype software they are developing on their own.
  20. You’ve been planning for so long that the original project goals are no longer valid.

You have likely witnessed at least one of these patterns in your projects. What’s the cure? D’Amico advises to just stop, test it, and deliver it already!

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Leveraging Agile Market Research for Faster, Better Concept Optimization

Only one in 10 market-facing decisions have the backing of customer data.  Nowhere is this shortage of customer feedback more evident than in the concept development process.  It's no wonder that a significant percentage of product, packaging, and advertising executions fail every year.

The time and cost of traditional data collection methods have prevented researchers and marketers from tapping consumer insights as much or as early as needed leaving them to rely on intuition or gut feel to pick and refine winning concepts.

On-demand tools when coupled with the Agile Research Methodology allow researchers and marketers to identify and optimize winning concepts much earlier in the development process resulting in executions that are both faster to market and better performing.

An upcoming webinar presented by GutCheck, “Leveraging Agile Market Research for Faster, Better Concept Optimization,” on Thursday, November 14 at 2:00 pm EST will feature an interactive, step-by-step review of the concept development process infused with best practices for applying on-demand quant and qual tools using an Agile approach.

GutCheck is an on-demand research community solution that provides immediate insights from specific consumers with quality that is equivalent to traditional online communities. Unlike these offerings that challenge timelines and budgets, GutCheck enables an Agile Research approach that delivers actionable feedback in days instead of weeks and at 50-70 percent the cost of traditional in-person focus groups.
In this webinar Matt Warta, CEO, GutCheck and Lisa O'Connor, Lead Online Research Strategist, GutCheck will discuss:
  • How to apply on-demand quant and qual tools within the Agile Research Methodology to screen and optimize concepts rapidly and early in the development process
  • Common questions that yield rich insights for testing and refining concepts
  • Best practices for recruiting and testing concepts with minimal bias
  • An in-depth case study will also be provided to illustrate this approach in action.  We will reserve the last 15 minutes of the webinar for Q&A.

Reserve your webinar seat now:
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

6 Types of Bad Project Managers

Project management is integral to the business world - milestones, kickoff meetings, deliverables, stakeholders, and work plans constitute the everyday world of most managers, whether they are called "project managers" or not. Given the vast experience organizations have with project management, it's reasonable to wonder why all projects aren't completed on time, on scope, and under budget. The reality is that there are some project managers who simply aren’t cut out to manage a team.

In fact, according to Phil Simon of InformationWeek, there are certain types of project managers that aren’t doing their job successfully. Here are six types of PMs that you may have in your office:

The Yes-Man
Certain PMs fear conflict and agree to every demand that clients or senior management make. As a result, they are used to saying "yes." These PMs do not intentionally try to sabotage projects, but  yes-men simply want their clients to be satisfied. But by failing to confront those with different expectations, yes-men make promises that put projects in danger.

The Micromanager
Micromanagers want to understand each step in a process or the nature of a complex issue. However, on a project, the PM is not supposed to be the product expert. Depending on the timing, a PM might have to live with a high-level explanation of an issue. Should the micromanager need more detail, she should bring consultants to steering committee meetings or have them write status reports providing more specifics.

The Procrastinator
PMs who routinely fail to deliver are the worst of the bunch because they cause organizations to miss project deadlines and put both employees in untenable positions. The procrastinator often ducks clients and does not deliver promised results such as updated project plans, documentation or status updates. People are likely to lose faith in the consulting firm and its individual consultants.

The Know-It-All
Nobody can know everything about an enterprise application. Some PMs have the ability to answer questions about certain system-related issues. Although being able to speak intelligently about issues is hardly a liability, PMs who do not engage their teams at key points do a number of inimical things. For one, they can alienate their consulting teams and make team members less likely to broach issues with them in the future.

The Pollyanna
Some PMs new to projects with large scopes are ecstatic when the project makes any progress at all. Pollyannas tend to take a "glass is 10 percent full" approach to project management. Rather than realistically assess and deal with a project suffering from delays and budget overruns, Pollyannas focus on trying to make everyone feel good. In this sense, they are like yes-men. PMs need to be able to call a spade a spade and not worry about sugarcoating dire situations.

The Pessimist

Pessimists fail to appreciate the gains that a team has made in the face of considerable obstacles. Pessimists overemphasize what still needs to be done as opposed to what has been done. Many projects would benefit from healthy doses of skepticism and realism. Sometimes, it's necessary to put functionality on the chopping block, but consultants and employees tend to put in long hours on projects, especially during critical times. PMs who constantly criticize a team for that which it has not accomplished are likely to irritate everyone. 
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

10 Leadership Habits of Project Managers

Have you ever been a part of a project team whose components seemed to be lacking until everyone pulled together to accomplish something great? Why do these things happen? The answer is the leadership. A poor leader fails to bring out the best of an already great team, but a great leader can create winners out of a team who may seem to lack ability.

Leadership is a critical and essential component for any project management team. Leading a project towards success requires the manager to have a clear vision, clarity in reason, practical in scheduling and the ability to attract a talented and efficient team. The stress in project management is about ensuring that things get done while motivating the project team towards delivering project success.

Rick Mears, CIO of Owens & Minor, has an interesting perspective on the most important elements of leadership with implications for how PMs show leadership in their roles.  Here are his top 10 leadership habits of project managers according to Mears:

10.  Keeping customers, people and profits balanced
These days, PMs have to watch the boundaries they place on stakeholders, teams and projects.  Does delivering a project on time make us successful if they’ve killed their team while doing so?  This habit rings true with the juggling act that PMs must keep up.

9.  Delivering bad news quickly
One of the biggest mistakes PMs can make is to sit on negative information in the hope that it will get better on its own.  The world doesn’t work this way – the much better alternative is to share the information with decision-makers and come up with solutions to solve the problem.

8.  Having tough conversations early
If PMs don’t address conflict in a timely manner, it can poison the relationship, the team atmosphere, etc.  Wait too long and you will blindside people with feedback that is out of date.

7. Running the play that was called when the huddle breaks
This is all about consistency, about not second-guessing the decision that was made.  Leaders who say one thing to the team, then turn around and take an action quickly lose creditability. This doesn’t mean you can’t change course, but that if you do so, you need to get the team’s understanding.

6.  Owning the decision
A leader who says to her team “Well, the big boss upstairs says we have to do it this way” has just given away her authority, and damaged the team’s confidence in her leadership.  A true leader has to understand the decision, become creative in how to follow it and own it.

5.  Collaborating – try for consensus
As leaders, PMs should do everything we can to get consensus from our teams.  Knowing that this will not always be possible, the next best thing we can do is at least spend enough time communicating our point of view so that the team understands the decision.

4.  Focusing on the things that you can influence, and then grow you influence
It’s important that PMs continue to hone leadership skills, relationships, credibility to grow their areas of influence.  If they aren’t managing that ability to influence, they will run into brick walls that can limit effectiveness. 

3.  Staying confident on the inside, but humble on the outside
True leaders take the heat, and give all the credit to the folks on the ground doing the work.  Ironically, by doing so, leaders are seen as honorable and capable – things that make others want to follow them.

2.  Asking for help
Some people in leadership roles are crippled by the fear that if they ask for help, they will be seen as weak.  In not asking for help, they become ineffective or make costly mistakes – which makes them seem week.

1.  Trust – takes forever to build, can be destroyed in an instant
For leaders to be effective, they must be trusted.  Each of the points above relate to this core concept – and it is a fragile thing to maintain.  It’s worth it to keep this concept in mind in almost all PMs’ actions as leaders – how are they are building trust, and are they risking damage to the trust they have established?

About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big DesignCustomers 1st, and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How to Be a Better Project Manager When You Aren’t One

The massive amount of young people who have grown up using social tools to engage with each other will soon take up the majority of the future workforce – causing a huge demographic shift. As a result, a new collaborative workplace is emerging - transforming the way work is done.  The future workforce will likely be project managers without even knowing it. According to Jacob Morgan, co-founder of Chess Media Group and contributor, here are seven ways the non-professional project manager can become a better manager of projects.

Be Mr. or Ms. Fix It. If you see something that’s broken, take the initiative to fix it.  Develop a plan to solve your team’s most pressing problems and gather influential people and resources around you to make things happen. 

Understand the Project. The best PMs have a handle on why they are doing a project, who they are doing it for, the requirements and the timeline.  They push back if senior leadership establishes a deadline that is unrealistic and doesn’t allow for the inevitable delays, and before proceeding, they make sure that everyone involved is on the same page regarding budget and metrics.

Be Organized. Collaboration software was developed for the purpose of keeping your team’s responsibilities and work easy to follow, but the software won’t do the whole job.  Use its features to communicate action items, keep track of the details and status of each task, and establish relationships between project aspects.

Don’t Let Them Coast. Set expectations ahead of project start and hold your team members accountable for specific deliverables and outcomes.  Think about each person’s development areas and devise ways to challenge them. Your team will be more productive if members are stretched and able to actively contribute to individual and team goals.

Be Assertive. The moment you become aware of a critical issue is the moment you should address it.  Before things get out of hand, speak with all of the parties involved and encourage a direct conversation.  Also, think about the best way to approach each team member to get the information you need and go that route. 

Macromanage.  Effective project managers understand that a team cannot be productive unless each member has the ability to work autonomously.  Once you set the course, give your people the freedom to make decisions in their area of responsibility.

Have Their Back. Facilitate an environment of open communication and let your people know that your door is always open. Setbacks are inevitable, but don’t play the blame game and take responsibility for your own role as a team leader.  Support your team when going head-to-head with others so that they will trust and respect you.
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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Claim Your PDUs in 3 Easy Steps!

The International Institute of Research (IIR) has the full attendance list to the PW&WCBA. If your name is on the list you should not have any issues reporting your PDUs.
Go to under MyPMI and Click Report PDUs.

Step 1:

 Step 2:

Click Search

 Step 3:

Add Dates and Click Submit

 Quick and Easy!

There is an additional 12 PDU's available through seminars.  Information on these seminars will be available soon through this IIR Website.

I had a great time at this event and met a lot of wonderful people.  I hope to see all of you at the next one.  Remember to check out the videos on the IIR blog or YouTube, just search PW&WBCA.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

5 Steps to Better Project Management

An organization must execute well. While project management can make up for mistakes in planning, excellent project management begins in the planning phase.

Project management is the art of managing the project and its deliverables with a view to produce finished products or service. There are many ways in which a project can be carried out and the way in which it is executed is PM. Without a planned approach to the task of managing the projects and achieving objectives, it would be very difficult for the organizations to successfully execute the projects within the constraints of time, scope and quality and deliver the required result.

Many of us are either new to PM or our organization is new to a structured PM approach. The key is to set up a good process and build on it through successful project deployments and understand what works best for your organization and customers.  You can build a project management methodology, but be open to tweaking it along the way – especially for newer or smaller organizations as you learn what works best for the size projects you manage.

According to, here are things you can do today quickly and easily that will make you a better PM and make your overall practice more successful:

Use a good customer management tool. There are so many cloud-based options abound for managing your customers.  It can be so easy to lose track of current clients, potential clients and those clients who want you to call them back next quarter when they have more money to spend. You need a good  CRM tool, so download a few trials and see which one works best.

Use a good PM tool. There are also a lot of cloud-based and affordable PM tools.  Search and try a few out…there are hundreds available now.  You can even use a combination of a CRM and a separate project management application, or you can evaluate CRM applications that include PM functionality.

Collect templates and planning documents. You need to plan – you need those requirements documents, communication plans and statements of work.  And, you need templates, pipelines and stages so that you can easily repeat project successes.  Project schedule templates are difficult to create from scratch, but once you have effective ones to choose from you can tailor them to get started on any type of project quickly and confidently. 

Meet with your customer regularly. We should all be scheduling weekly status meetings with our project teams, as well as reaching out regularly to your customer just to ensure that they feel all the bases are being covered. It’s better to find out early about a concern than to let it fester into something that they end up calling your CEO about later in the project. 

Be professional. You probably have at your disposal a solid group of very skilled project resources.  Treat them as such and they will follow you into battle. They won’t soon forget the recognition you give them for jobs well done.  Project managers don’t often get the praises they probably deserve for individual project successes, but that should never stop you from treating your team the way you would want to be treated.  It will pay off dividends throughout the engagement and when these same resources end up on your teams later on other projects. 

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA in New York City, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc.
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