Sunday, November 15, 2015

10 Practical Strategies for simple and straight forward Project Management

Take some time to reflect on each. Add any you think I am missing, and throw out any you disagree with. Only you know what works in your particular environment.

1. Access to Information

Accurate information about the state of the project must always be available to everyone who needs to know. Use a web site, or shared network drive and keep it up to date. Communicate and socialize the location of the information. Make it easy to access. Make the information available in several layers of detail to satisfy the diverse information needs of different stakeholders. I guarantee this will reduce the number and duration of meetings, constant flow of e-mail and phone calls. In turn, you will be able to spend more time managing.
Keep no secrets about the state of the project, and don't surprise anyone. You can't bail a struggling project out yourself. A small risk or issue today will grow into a crisis if not dealt with quick and precise remedy. 

2. Change happens

Don't struggle against it, but manage it ferociously and with great courage. This is all on this subject for now, as this subject is worthy of it's own article. Just recognize that change is inevitable, and must be managed closely.

3. Have the facts straight and use data when reporting on the state of the project.

Intuition is a great quality, use it to know you need to review the facts, but it has no place in status reporting. Report the facts with no emotion. Emotion leads to finger pointing and blame.

4. Focus on the scope, schedule, cost, and quality of deliverable.

Don't focus on people and tasks. Reporting "(He or She) didn't write the specification" closes the door on understanding the problem and fixing it. And it kills your relationship with (He or She) for future specifications. Instead, report "The specification needed to be completed today, and it isn't". Then work with (He or She) to understand the problem and fix it.

5. Resist escalations (going over or around people).

While sometimes it is necessary to ruffle feathers, if you're constantly escalating, people will become alienated and lose interest in what you have to offer. When you escalate, be sure you have your facts straight, and that you are doing so as a last resort because your project is in jeopardy.

6. Strive not to use words like "No" or "Can't".

Too many of these words too often will create a perception that you are inept or not a team player. Eventually, people will start going around you to get things done. Instead of "No" or "Can't", clearly describe options and well thought out implications for each.

7. Be the cheerleader and keep things positive.

Celebrate every success, no matter how small. Regardless of the size and scope of your project, you want everyone to think it's the most important work in the world to be doing right now.

8. Keep the emotional bank full by praising those who do good work.

Eventually, you will need to make an emotional withdrawal from people, having them love you now makes it easier for them to forgive you later.

9. Things will always take 30% longer and cost 30% more than your initial estimates.

Pad your estimates. If you're lucky and persuasive enough, you may get approval for what you originally estimated.

10. Become an expert user of the Microsoft Office Suite of products.

Proficiency in Project, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access will give you a decisive edge over other project managers because your ability to execute quickly will increase dramatically.

Posted by: Sherie Smith, Edited and posted here by Regan. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Effective Keys to Succeed with ERP PROJECT !

ERP implementations are gaining momentum. As executives become more comfortable with volatility and as they think they have a better handle on what might occur in the future, they are starting to think about investing again. To add fuel to the fire, they are realizing that they’ll be left in the dust by their competitors who can deliver quicker, provide 24/7 access to shop and gain order status visibility etc., and so they are considering investing in technology. Hence there is a sharp rise in requests to select systems and help with project management for upgrades and implementations.

ERP implementations rarely fail in formulation; however, they frequently fail in implementation. Almost every client we have run across has heard a horror story of a failed ERP implementation - a supplier that couldn’t ship, a customer that couldn’t figure out what was needed, the business in chaos, etc. Thus, it makes imminent sense to consider the top keys to success for ERP implementations. Don’t even start down the path until you’ve thought through these keys to success:

Focus on just the critical few key requirements: Although it is natural to think that every piece of functionality is critical (or why not include it since you're spending money on a new system anyway), STOP!  Take a step back and focus 80% of your efforts on the 20% of functionality that drives your business. Which profit drivers are important? Which customer requirements are key to success? Does your industry have any differentiators? How will the software functionality address these critical success factors?

In my experience with numerous ERP selection and implementation projects, this is one of the most overlooked yet vital success factors. Unfortunately it is easy to get swiped up in the bells and whistles the ERP software providers show you unless you have clearly defined which 3-5 critical requirements should be seen with a deep dive.

People: Nothing else matters if the right people aren't on the team. As with project success in general, it begins and ends with leadership! When implementing a system, it is 99.9% probable that something will go wrong during the implementation, and if you have the right people in the right positions (on the implementation team, focused on change management, leading the organization, etc.), they will turn these potential bottlenecks into minor bumps in the road.

Functional-led: The project must be led by a core business function, yet the IT project manager must be integral to the process. We agree things might seem like a contradiction, but it is one of the most important elements to success. The business must lead the process to make sure it is focused on the key elements that will support the business and drive business value/ return; however, they typically are not the best equipped to ensure a successful execution. Therefore, finding an IT project manager proficient in bringing it all together (the business needs, project management, the IT elements, etc.) and facilitating the implementation (sometimes behind the scenes in a supporting role) is key to success.

For example, in my experience, if the ERP implementation was led by IT, the business leaders would blame IT’s lack of business knowledge on any issues that arose – regardless of whether they could have prevented them. Instead, if the business functions led the implementation, they brought up the business issues in advance. In those cases, if IT wasn’t integral, the issues were typically not addressed successfully – or in the most cost effective and efficient manner. Thus, the optimal solution occurred when it was collaboration.

Change management: Implementing a new system is one of the most significant change management initiatives a company can embark upon. People’s jobs change, processes are redefined, and the system is changed – not much stays the same. Thus, change management is vital to success.

Even though change management is a requirement to succeed, it isn't necessary for the project leader and team to be an expert in change management to be successful. Instead, leadership is the key - communicate proactively, provide as much clarity as possible about the future state, communicate the roadmap to get to the future state, ask questions, incorporate input, and listen. Project managers and functional leaders will make or break your ERP project success.

Training and education: This topic should not be overlooked. It is the only way to make sure the business results are achieved. Don't just focus on the how-to's. Remember the whys - we want people to think, ask questions, push back and work as a team to deliver the expected business results. Thus, processes need to be defined and understood. How will each person’s daily job responsibilities change? Do they understand the expectations? Do they understand how to perform the functions in the system? Do they know how to back out mistakes? Do they know how to run reports? Simple questions yet often overlooked.
As businesses upgrade and implement new systems, those who follow these keys to success will not only implement the new system without significant stress and failures but they will also have the opportunity to leverage technology to improve customer satisfaction and increase margins.

Thanks & Regards,
S.Grace Paul Regan

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Project Management is an Art

Many people across the globe have registered this term “Project Management Is An Art” yet I see lots of people around me who really doesn't realise this fact. Most of management staffs have this idea that “GOOD” project managers can be created by passing some exams and certifying them as Project Managers who will lead a team towards success practically with their recently gained theoretical knowledge.

I would like to register the fact, The word “ART” was associated with Project Management to convey a simple message to people that “ART” cannot be developed by theories or by reading dozens of books. Art is something by itself its UNIQUE, PRACTICAL, CREATIVE, EVOLVING, NATURAL and there are a lot more to say about it.

The tools and techniques used in ART can be enhanced to achieve the excellence of an Artist, But the ART is something that is unique with individualism. That unique ART within an individual was developed with his previous experience with his attitude towards ART,  not he followed some guidelines to perform that ART.

There is a widespread un-certified message that learning tools, techniques of Project Management and Testifying against a set of simple questions made complex will certify a person to become a successful Project Manager, In some cases I have seen well-established companies have included the criteria for Certification as a key mandatory qualification to apply for the Post of project management (“Blindfolded educated illiterates”).

I am not discussing an ideology here rather it's a “Fact” and I believe its better people and government wake up on this issue as this message of employing certified people is spreading like a cancer, very soon you will find yourself in a place where your organizations are infested by "Theoretical People" who can never think practical and you will automatically loose "Creativity, Innovation, Freedom, Practical Approach, Humanism and finally the vision of your company. One day you will ask this question "What am I, and my company is doing?" for sure you will not have answers at that time and no turning back.

The Human Resource Management department should understand this fact to the at most because they will be the key in resource recruitment.

What I wanted to convey?
When a Project Manager or any professional  is recruited he has to be certified,Tested and qualified according to his past experience in what he is expert and how much that would add value to your organization rather than simply setting criteria as certifications is an  mandatory selection criteria, It really proves the maturity and experience in what you are doing. An experienced guy with certifications will be an added value but that certification alone will not bring any benefit to your organization when compared to a guy with more experience in that particular field with no certification.  

The company should be clear about their need's? which will actually bring more value to their company rather than just concentrating on the cosmetic effect of a professional.

With such a kind of certification recruitment attitude I have found most of the companies being so dumb in getting their resource. When there are 10-real expert guys in a particular domain, the HR guys search and find an excellent fake resume just because of their certification cosmetic effect. When Project fails or later on when the functional , program or portfolio managers find these resources to be kicked out, When they question the HR? How this guy was recruited that is where the HR people are actually benefited where they can save their Ass by the statement “All these resources were certified professional”.

Especially I find this kind of blindfolded dumb recruitment policy more in middle eastern areas and now much more in Indian companies.

Hence HR or Management people when you evaluate a Project Manager or any technical resource go by his expertise and proceed to check if this expertise is real to an extent not just by dumb certifications.

Certifications can only give some “Cosmetic” effect to any professional it can not create him to be the best professional.

Note: It doesn't mean that I am against certification or a person who was unable to get one. I have more than 10 Professional certifications (Oracle Partner Network Certified SCM, Oracle Certified Expert (OCE), Project Management Professional (PMP), Information Technology Infrastructure Libriary (ITIL), Lean Six Sigma (LSSGB, Certified Scrum Master)) accrued for the same reasons discussed above, hence I found that certifications can give some cosmetic effect for an professional, rather than certification alone making him as an professional.

Thanks & Regards,

S.Grace Paul Regan