There are three outcomes that managers in business are regularly required to achieve. I want to discuss these three outcomes, or more precisely the inter-relationship between them. I am going to use the example of projects. That is not because this is an article for project managers, but because projects provide a very clear example of the problems of trying to achieve these three outcomes simultaneously. The ideas in this article are widely applicable beyond the specific domain of projects.
The three outcomes are: meeting commitments, enabling flexibility and keeping resources 100% utilised. The main message of my article is simple: you cannot achieve all three. Constantly trying to do so is a waste of effort that misses an important opportunity.
I regularly interview and otherwise engage with lots of project and program managers. Sooner or later the conversation turns to how good they are at their job, and usually pretty soon into this conversation the response comes that they have a great track record. Their great track record is justified because they have repeatedly delivered to time and budget.
Frankly, I am usually a bit sceptical at this point.
Most large organizations have some form of project management and change management teams. In fact, lost of businesses have multiple teams running projects, delivering change and otherwise helping the organization to develop and improve.
There is lots written about project, programme, portfolio and change management – about increasing project performance, creating high performing project teams and so on, but there is less thought about the setting up and running of project and change management teams.
I am often involved in recruiting project managers for my clients. Project managers who clients hope will deliver the perfect project. What is it that makes me want to interview a project manager, and what CVs do I throw in the bin? At all times, but especially in tough times like the present, successful project managers are those who's skills are relevant to their customer’s needs. This is really important when it comes to changing your role. So, how do you make yourself appealing to that customer? Here are 6 simple tips that in my experience will increase your chances of getting that new job.
Project reporting is an important aspect of project delivery. There are many reasons to develop regular project reports. Project reports create a focal point for clarifying the precise status of a project and for providing information which helps key stakeholders to perform necessary supporting actions as well as manage customer expectations.
One of the habits I have observed in management is the tendency, in trying to solve a problem, to focus in one area, when it is a different issue that lies at the bottom of the challenge being faced. A key reason for this is the questions that are asked.
I am often asked what makes a great project manager. Like any question of this sort the asker is looking for some simple mantra that is universally true. Life’s a bit more complex than that, but I can give an indication. I think there are five personal characteristics that are fundamental to any delivery role:
The first question surrounding any new project management book should be – why? There are thousands and thousands of project management books, and amongst those thousands there are quite a few that are very good. We all have our favourites.
Reporting is a central part of project delivery. There is a variety of reports to produce: status reports, budget updates, steering committee packs and so on. Reporting can take up a significant proportion of project resources, and is often a point of dissatisfaction for project managers, project sponsors and other stakeholders.
All business projects result in an outcome in the form of a change. In business it is important to be able to measure these outcomes. How should you approach this? The following article is extracted from a book I wrote recently, The Financial Times Briefing: Change Management, and provides some thoughts on measuring change.