The Role of Project Management In Marketing

Project management in marketing is not the same as project management elsewhere. Unlike, say, manufacturing, marketing is not a repetitive or “assembly line” process. Marketing involves many unforeseen occurrences and uncertain activities, as any experienced marketing professional knows all too well. Therefore, the purpose of marketing project management isn’t to try and determine the indeterminable; rather, it’s to significantly increase the chance of success by predicting some things and managing the uncertainty of the rest.

For example, marketing professionals using the “seat of the pants” approach often find it’s a headache to keep up with assigning tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities. Their team’s priorities may seem to be a bit mixed up, with bottlenecks appearing in one or two places. Their projects simply don’t “flow” smoothly. The solution to all this is effective project management.

What Can Project Management Do For Your Marketing?

Consider the example of “agile marketing” instant market research communities. Being able to quickly test marketing ideas before deployment is, needless to say, a desirable capability. Yet being able to create an “instant community” from a target market, set them up on a suitable channel, spark a discussion, and then generate usable data from that discussion requires considerable project management skill. This is particularly true for the “instant” model, where all this must be done without taking so much time or expense that what was meant to be a quick check does not intrude onto the larger project.

Therefore, project management in marketing must accomplish two goals:
– It must be adaptable, on an ongoing basis, to circumstances as they change; and,
– It must be predictable, organised, and structured.

In essence, project management acts as an effective glue to hold the project together. A good project manager spends a great deal of time ensuring everyone in the team knows when things are due and what their responsibilities are. If things are going better than anticipated, or if something goes wrong, they step in to adapt the schedule in light of the progress (or delay) and avoid bottlenecks elsewhere.

Project schedules are therefore living documents. They are not generated once and then pinned to the wall; they’re maintained and updated throughout the project.

Metrics and Marketing Project Management

Key to effective and agile project management are metrics, which enable us to produce usable information about the project quickly. Metrics allow everyone to see where a project is and where it is going, and identify potential problems while there’s still time to fix them. This quantification aspect is often considered the most important part of effective project management, and so it’s vital to identify metrics for both overall progress and individual processes.

Project management is not simply limited to metrics, though. It covers all aspects of project planning: how will resources and activities be coordinated? What is the baseline level from which everyone is operating — what is the reference point?

Based on the metrics, activities, and resources involved in the project, the team can then create a schedule that translates the overall project plan to particular tasks, with milestones, flow, resources, durations, responsibilities, start and completion times, and more.

Project Planning

As a rule of thumb, project planning should take about 5% of the anticipated project time. Spending much longer than this usually means there is waste in the planning process, whereas spending less tends to result in oversights and missed opportunities. For a project that’s estimated to take 200 hours to complete, 10 hours of planning almost always saves far more than 10 hours worth of “fire fighting” and other non-productive activities.

On the other hand, planning is a business process like any other. In this sense, it’s often logical to spend 5% of the planning time improving the planning process, and looking for ways to eliminate the waste which accumulates over time. Once the waste is gone, many companies find they enjoy the planning process — the decision-making and collaboration which defines planning is rewarding for the whole team.

After optimising the project planning process, managing new projects becomes intuitive and very easy. The standard work plan becomes ingrained in everyone’s habits, productivity soars, and embarking on new projects stops feeling like an uphill battle.

Lastly, it’s important to note that no process or plan is a substitute for good teamwork and communication. Project management is a tool to help everyone work together and understand what must be done when. As many people have learned, it’s not simply enough for the project manager to understand the final goal — the whole team must understand it too.

Can Meditation Help Project Managers and Entrepreneurs?

Do you ever reach that moment during your work day when you think, “give me ONE good reason not to quit…” It’s safe to say that we’ve all been there at one point or another. This just comes with the territory of working for a living. Even if you are the most calm and patient project manager or small business owner out there, everyone has a breaking point and everyone has a limit.

So when you reach that moment, what do you do? Many project managers and small business owners might say they go for a walk, get some fresh air to help clear their minds, listen to music, or take a lunch break and go to the gym. As a professional, we have to find rational and effective ways to properly deal with stress and anxiety. Another stress-reducing method that project managers and small business owners can try when the going gets tough is meditation.

It is easy to become wrapped up in deadlines, questions, phone calls, and the details of each project…and sometimes all of the above all at once. This is just one reason why some professional project managers and small business owners swear by meditation. It helps them slow down, clear their minds, and reduce stress so they can think clearly and make good decisions and solve problems. Practicing meditation techniques also helps rid anger, frustration, and just the general overwhelming feelings. It allows a project manager to become in tune with his or her own thoughts, and allows them to release those thoughts in a calm and healthy manner.

Reality and working for a living can be tiresome, overwhelming, and stressful things. We all know this. But as a whole, meditation allows us to deal with reality from a different and clearer angle. It allows you to mentally and physically prepare you for the reality of life and work. It allows you to face and tackle challenges from a clear vantage point and mind frame that isn’t tense or from an emotionally-charged mental state.

Meditation also helps project managers and professionals deal with things in strides. Sure, there are some areas of a particular project, job, or client that we might not like or find frustrating, but meditation allows for those areas to be seen for what they are, rather than what they could or should be. This is a huge area where project management professionals and entrepreneurs get hung up…and it’s certainly easy to do. But keeping the right frame of mind will help them see and accept areas of dislike just for what they are.

All in all, meditation isn’t for everyone, of course. Some may prefer yoga, or other form of exercise to use as a physical and mental release for stress and seeing problems clearly. But meditation has proven to be an effective stress reduction and coping method that can help professional project managers and entrepreneurs properly make decisions, solve problems, and effectively deal with on-the-job stress.

 

Planning a Foreign Market Penetration

Foreign Currency Exchange Stock Market as ConceptExport can be an excellent way to grow your company, but there is also a degree of risk. Entrepreneurs looking to expand their operations into foreign markets can minimize this risk with four key steps: gathering information, preparing their export plan, making a number of key decisions, and obtaining necessary financing.

Gathering Information

Possibly the most essential step of entering a foreign market is developing an understanding of the local customs, culture, and economic conditions in your target market. Start with an online search and international trade authorities, who can often provide useful information. If the expansion is worth it, however, consider paying the market a personal visit. Reading articles and scanning statistics simply cannot compare with talking with potential clients and distribution channels on site.

Particularly if you represent a larger enterprise expanding into several markets, this kind of in-depth research may seem like overkill. Indeed, for an online retailer simply adding new countries to their “ship to” drop-down box, it may not be necessary. However, stories abound of businesses trying to enter foreign markets and making colossal translation mistakes which could have been avoided. Understanding how things work in practice, and not just how they are described in literature put out by various groups, may make the difference between success and failure of your market entry.

Preparing Your Export Plan

Once you’re satisfied that you understand the realities of doing business in the new market, start drawing up your export plan. Like a business plan, your export plan details the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) you anticipate facing in the market. It clearly defines your objectives, so you can choose the right tactics to reach your goals. Lastly, having a well-thought-out export plan will boost your credibility with potential lenders if you seek out financing for your market penetration project.

In your export plan, spell out the countries which you’ll be targeting, the opportunities you see, the competitors you anticipate having, and how you’ll distribute and market products in each new location. Similarly, detail any changes you’ll need to make to your products to accommodate the needs of the market, the methodology you’ll use to choose your sales price, and how long you expect the process to take. If you need extra staff to implement the project or reach your market, describe the staffing levels you anticipate requiring and what metrics you’ll use to evaluate results during the process of implementation.

For your market entry, you’ll probably have to choose one of three strategies: distributors, sales representatives, or direct sales. Working with distributors and foreign retailers are perhaps the easiest option, as they buy direct from your firm and handle in-country distribution. Alternately, you can have your sales representatives call on potential buyers with product samples and literature. Lastly, and this option is particularly popular with online firms, direct sales means delivering directly to the foreign consumer.

Making the Right Choices

Unless your firm is an online venture whose primary commitment to the foreign market is making your website available in their language and offering shipping to their country, it’s very likely the market penetration will be a substantial commitment of time, money, and effort. It should not be considered as a short-term fix to deal with lackluster domestic sales.

Especially if this is your first foreign market entry, focus on one market at a time. You can attempt to go after others later. For now, focus on determining all the adaptations you’ll have to make in your product, promotions, and price to succeed in the foreign market — and to survive the myriad tax, shipping, currency, and insurance hurdles.

One thing you should be careful to avoid, though it may seem obvious, is competing with your local partners. Check out what they offer in country (which may be different from what they advertise on their website) and ensure your interests are aligned. If possible, look for partners who have complementary products which will give you a competitive advantage.

With respect to contracts, try and avoid contracts governed by foreign law. Similarly, don’t agree on exclusivity with any foreign partner unless they attain a certain level of sales or another business objective. Also, spend some time finding a skilled customs broker who will eliminate delays and who will satisfy both you and your local partners.

Finding Financing

Once you run the numbers, you may find it’s better to look for outside capital rather than dipping into your operating funds to finance the export venture. To get financing, you’ll need to have solid financial planning both for the short and the long term. This means backing up your export goals with a financial plan that assess all the potential costs and revenues, and outlines both the amount and the type of financing you need.

Include everything in your export budget — from product adaptations to travel expenses and distributor commissions. Lay out your financing options, how you intend to handle expansion costs, what you’ll do to ensure you get paid, and show how it all affects your working capital and cash flow.

Conclusion

Entering a foreign market can be a complex endeavor. As well as the major issues like knowing your market, adapting your operations, and financing the entry, you’ll also have to navigate a complex set of laws and regulations governing export and import. The resulting logistics headache almost always requires a customs broker, as trying to prepare the paperwork yourself might overwhelm your business. Provided you do successfully clear all the hurdles, however, international expansion can be a highly rewarding move.

7 Questions to Gauge Your Project Team’s Potential

Today’s workforce is comprised of individuals forming a project team for a company or a certain project. Owner-managers need to make sure that their decisions will lead them to success. Business operations in a collaboration team should be treated hands-on. How? They can do it by performing proper project management.

Companies and businesses are aiming to be successful. They get workers that will help them achieve this goal. They form a productive team and eventually ask questions. Success depends on how the project manager performs proper team management. So, what are the important questions that every project manager should be able to answer?

1. As manager, are you leading the way to success?
Managing a project team means becoming a leader. Effective leadership is a part of project management where the manager should spend a considerable amount of time and energy. As a team leader, helping the team perform effectively is something that you have to decide on for the benefit of the team and the company as a whole. Team members will most likely to follow this good example, eventually creating a productive team in the process.

2. Does your team know the purpose, goals, objectives, and target?
Having a clear purpose right from the start is a necessary ingredient for team success. When forming project collaboration, the first question to ask is: What is our purpose? This purpose is the main reason why these individuals come together as a team. It is best that the collaboration team sticks to this all throughout the project duration in order to reach goals.

Once you all know the purpose, goals and objectives are listed down. Make sure that these goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. As manager, you should be open to collaboration starting with this task of setting goals.

3. Are your team members delegated properly?
Teamwork is an important ingredient in every growing company or business. Every collaboration team has specific tasks to complete. These tasks must be properly assigned to the right person. Here is where task management comes in. Task management is an integral part of project management because it helps managers stick to a detailed and updated project schedule. Properly delegated team members would mean that there is potential for the team to succeed since there is good direction and it is sure that the project moves forward.

As manager, you should know your members well. Focus on their talents and strengths, as well as what they can contribute to the team effort. Managing tasks can help individuals achieve goals, as well as teams in terms of collaboration. Members should be delegated properly by assigning them familiar tasks that will enable them to become a productive team.

4. Is your team constantly developing ways of interacting and communicating effectively?
It is important to track the ways on how team members interact with each other over time. Especially in collaboration, it is important for everyone to be able to freely discuss team matters in a convenient manner.

Aside from availability of communication tools and processes such as open meetings and one on one interview, you should also conduct trainings and presentations to encourage interaction among the project team. As manager, you should proactively recognize team effort and individual contributions through regular meetings and appraisals. Keep in mind that how the productive team decides on matters, delegates tasks, and responds to accountability determines its potential.

5. Is your team virtually-equipped and ready to face technological advancements?
As the team leader, you have to make sure that you maintain an open-minded team. According to U.S. Office of Personnel Management a team should be open to the changes that happen internally and externally. Be it a change inside the team, inside the organization, or outside the business and even to technological changes, you should make sure that you have a team that is ready for the complexities that may happen in and out.

Project management is comprised of 90 percent communication. While managers still rely on personal contact to communicate and build trusting relationships with team members, it is most important for virtual project teams to keep communication lines wide open. Modern technology found ways to support virtual teams. The advantage of being virtually-equipped is their readiness to face modernization. The workplace is becoming fast-paced and it is important to maintain confidence among members. Virtual readiness means that the productive team can work independently while still being accountable for their tasks.

Communication tools include internet access, email, instant messaging, web meetings, conference calls, video conferencing, social media, shared files or directories, and availability of collaboration software. As project manager, you need to understand how to use project management tools such as Podio, Trello, Zoho and Binfire as well as the proper approach to team members.

6. As manager, are you monitoring the progress and collaboration?
Even if this is project collaboration, it does not necessarily mean that it’s okay to just wait for the project to end. As manager, it is your responsibility to form the right team, start the project and monitor the progress until it is done. You can find out if there is effective teamwork or proper use of communication tools. Part of team management is keeping track of constantly finding ways on how to improve the project, how to strictly follow the schedules or deadlines, and ironing out minor problems as well as pointing out.

7. As manager, do you value your committed team member?
The project team’s unity is crucial in maintaining the formed collaboration. If you have put together a group of dedicated, talented and capable individuals that perform well, it is best to let them stay long enough to know how the whole productive team works. When the time comes that they become highly competent and efficient team members, you are assured of achieving more for your company or business.

Valuing a committed member is a significant part of team management. A dedicated individual can contribute alone and perform well in a collaboration team.

As project manager, these seven questions are just a few to gauge the potential of your team. You can keep your team productive so that your company can benefit from their performance. You can do this by being a leader, building trustworthy relationships, creating job satisfaction, and rewarding your team members.

Today’s workforce is comprised of individuals forming a project team for a company or a certain project. Owner-managers need to make sure that their decisions will lead them to success. Business operations in a collaboration team should be treated hands-on. How? They can do it by performing proper project management.

Companies and businesses are aiming to be successful. They get workers that will help them achieve this goal. They form a productive team and eventually ask questions. Success depends on how the project manager performs proper team management. So, what are the important questions that every project manager should be able to answer?

1. As manager, are you leading the way to success?
Managing a project team means becoming a leader. Effective leadership is a part of project management where the manager should spend a considerable amount of time and energy. As a team leader, helping the team perform effectively is something that you have to decide on for the benefit of the team and the company as a whole. Team members will most likely to follow this good example, eventually creating a productive team in the process.

2. Does your team know the purpose, goals, objectives, and target?
Having a clear purpose right from the start is a necessary ingredient for team success. When forming project collaboration, the first question to ask is: What is our purpose? This purpose is the main reason why these individuals come together as a team. It is best that the collaboration team sticks to this all throughout the project duration in order to reach goals.

Once you all know the purpose, goals and objectives are listed down. Make sure that these goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. As manager, you should be open to collaboration starting with this task of setting goals.

3. Are your team members delegated properly?
Teamwork is an important ingredient in every growing company or business. Every collaboration team has specific tasks to complete. These tasks must be properly assigned to the right person. Here is where task management comes in. Task management is an integral part of project management because it helps managers stick to a detailed and updated project schedule. Properly delegated team members would mean that there is potential for the team to succeed since there is good direction and it is sure that the project moves forward.

As manager, you should know your members well. Focus on their talents and strengths, as well as what they can contribute to the team effort. Managing tasks can help individuals achieve goals, as well as teams in terms of collaboration. Members should be delegated properly by assigning them familiar tasks that will enable them to become a productive team.

4. Is your team constantly developing ways of interacting and communicating effectively?
It is important to track the ways on how team members interact with each other over time. Especially in collaboration, it is important for everyone to be able to freely discuss team matters in a convenient manner.

Aside from availability of communication tools and processes such as open meetings and one on one interview, you should also conduct trainings and presentations to encourage interaction among the project team. As manager, you should proactively recognize team effort and individual contributions through regular meetings and appraisals. Keep in mind that how the productive team decides on matters, delegates tasks, and responds to accountability determines its potential.

5. Is your team virtually-equipped and ready to face technological advancements?
As the team leader, you have to make sure that you maintain an open-minded team. According to U.S. Office of Personnel Management a team should be open to the changes that happen internally and externally. Be it a change inside the team, inside the organization, or outside the business and even to technological changes, you should make sure that you have a team that is ready for the complexities that may happen in and out.

Project management is comprised of 90 percent communication. While managers still rely on personal contact to communicate and build trusting relationships with team members, it is most important for virtual project teams to keep communication lines wide open. Modern technology found ways to support virtual teams. The advantage of being virtually-equipped is their readiness to face modernization. The workplace is becoming fast-paced and it is important to maintain confidence among members. Virtual readiness means that the productive team can work independently while still being accountable for their tasks.

Communication tools include internet access, email, instant messaging, web meetings, conference calls, video conferencing, social media, shared files or directories, and availability of collaboration software. As project manager, you need to understand how to use project management tools such as Podio, Trello, Zoho and Binfire as well as the proper approach to team members.

6. As manager, are you monitoring the progress and collaboration?
Even if this is project collaboration, it does not necessarily mean that it’s okay to just wait for the project to end. As manager, it is your responsibility to form the right team, start the project and monitor the progress until it is done. You can find out if there is effective teamwork or proper use of communication tools. Part of team management is keeping track of constantly finding ways on how to improve the project, how to strictly follow the schedules or deadlines, and ironing out minor problems as well as pointing out.

7. As manager, do you value your committed team member?
The project team’s unity is crucial in maintaining the formed collaboration. If you have put together a group of dedicated, talented and capable individuals that perform well, it is best to let them stay long enough to know how the whole productive team works. When the time comes that they become highly competent and efficient team members, you are assured of achieving more for your company or business.

Valuing a committed member is a significant part of team management. A dedicated individual can contribute alone and perform well in a collaboration team.

As project manager, these seven questions are just a few to gauge the potential of your team. You can keep your team productive so that your company can benefit from their performance. You can do this by being a leader, building trustworthy relationships, creating job satisfaction, and rewarding your team members.

What Project Managers and Entrepreneurs Can Learn from the 2014 Olympics

What do project managers, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and the 2014 Olympics all have in common? Before you say nothing, let’s give it some thought. What do professionals and athletes have in common? What does it take for them both to succeed? Motivation, drive, creativity, passion, and stamina. These are just some of the characteristics needed for success and to win. Do you have what it takes?

A lot of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears go into properly training and preparing for the Olympics. Not to mention the time, energy, and stamina needed to compete. It’s not easy, and it may not always be fun, but it’s what athletes do to go for the gold. Project managers and entrepreneurs operate much the same way, and should adopt the same attitude, drive, and level of thinking in order to also compete and succeed.

So how can project managers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners adopt the right practices and attitudes into their businesses to ensure success? Here are a few tips:

Think Big…and Creatively. What gets athletes powered to take the plunge and go for the win? Maybe it began with a dream, a vision, or a thirst and hunger for gold. All in all, they aren’t afraid to think big. They don’t limit themselves and they think creatively on how to get there. The same goes for business. Small business owners and entrepreneurs must be able to think big and outside the box.

So where do you start? Have a goal, an ambition, a “gold medal”, so to speak to aim for. This could be as small as do something small for your business every day to meeting $500,000 in revenue for the year…and everything in between. There is no right or wrong goal and it completely depends on your small business shape, size, and industry. All in all, it should be something you are capable of, but is also a challenge.

Motivation. One of the key ingredients to success is motivation. We can’t accomplish anything without motivation, let alone run a successful small business or win an Olympic gold medal. Setting and reaching goals starts here. Motivation isn’t something that you feel “in the zone” some days and not others. Staying motivated means putting in the time and work, staying disciplined, keeping a positive frame of mind, and maintaining all this consistently. This is the hardest part of all, but it can be done. Make it happen for your team and for your small business. Get motivated and stay there.

Face the Music. It’s not always going to be pretty. The sooner project managers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners accept this, the easier it will be. Running a small business as well as competing for the gold certainly does not come without its challenges, pit falls, and setbacks. But this doesn’t mean failure. Failure is when a challenge, pit fall, or setback makes you quit. Failure is a choice. Quitters and failures don’t run successful businesses and do not win Olympic gold medals. But this is what sets apart the men from the boys and the women from the girls. It’s time for small business owners to face the music and face the challenges head on.

Commitment. Last, but certainly not least, is commitment. Nothing will ever get done if you don’t make a commitment. Motivation plays a large role in commitment. Commitment means setting goals, keeping those goals, and staying motivated to reach them. One cannot happen without the other. If you are committed to reaching a certain goal, you will stay motivated. If you are not properly motivated, then you are not committed and therefore will not reach your goal. Setting a commitment isn’t always easy even though it may seem to be.

It’s easy to say, “Hey, I’m going to run five miles today.” But the hard part is tying your sneakers. Commitment is not only making the claim, tying your sneakers, but it also involves taking your first steps to your destination, your goal. Make the commitment to yourself, your team, and your small business.

All in all, being a professional project manager, an entrepreneur, or small business owner takes guts. It’s not easy, but neither is being an Olympic athlete. They both come with their share of challenges, struggles, and uphill battles…literally. But they also come with their share of successes, triumphs, and gold medals. You just have to have what it takes. Are you up for it?

Are You Using Any of These Project Management Mobile Apps?

Our world and society become flooded with technology and media. Everybody knows this. And as a result, our world and society is now flooded with apps. There is an app for everything. Apps can do anything from serve as cat toys to monitor a plant’s health in your home to running a small business…and everything in between. So which apps are really worth your time and will really help you as a project manager or entrepreneur?

A good app for a project manager, entrepreneur, or small business owner really depends on the individual’s working style, taste, and preferences. However, here are a few suggestions of common, recommended, and effective project management apps.

Wrike. Wrike is one of the best project management software available today. It is highly used by many professional project managers, entrepreneurs, and teams in organizing and overseeing tasks and projects today. Wrike is of course available in app format for both the iPhone and Android. One of the most attractive features of Wrike is the ability to organize and see tasks and projects by deadline, priorities, and even an activity feed that keeps track of comments, conversations, and attachments.

Basecamp. Basecamp is another popular type of project management software that is highly used across virtual teams and organizations. Its web-based platform allows users to easily see projects and tasks assigned to them, priorities, deadlines, and a news and activity feed that is great for interacting and keeping in touch with other team members and users. One of the most attractive features of this type of software is its design. Many users claim it’s “easy on the eyes” and that it’s incredibly user-friendly and extremely easy to use. The Basecamp app is available for both the iPhone and Android smartphones.

ProWorkflow. ProWorkflow is another highly recommended and rated project management software that is also available in iPhone app format. One of the most attractive features of this tool is its unique set up and user interface. The design is highly attractive and users are able to easily identify tasks and projects, view deadlines and priorities, and it is even easy to create new tasks and projects, assign a priority level and team members, and even assign tasks that correspond to a particular project…which is huge.

So why do we need apps? Other than them being a huge fad and popular tools in our technologically advanced society? They make our lives easier. Project managers and entrepreneurs would agree that mobile project management apps allows users to keep track of tasks, projects, and even receive notifications when a message is received, sent, or a document is uploaded.

Our on-the-go and mobile business world today requires efficient and easy-to-use apps in order to stay on track of projects and deadlines. They even allow users to easily communicate with off-site or virtual team members working on a project. This is especially useful for virtual team members located in different offices, states, or even countries. Start organizing your projects today with one of these great project management apps

Language: The True Leadership Element

When we think about leadership, what do we think of? We might think of management, responsibility, a mentor, working with and encouraging others, or even working within a team. But there is a difference between “leadership” and “management”, isn’t there? When we think about leadership, we should also think about language.

Every organization has its own vocabulary or buzzwords they throw around in training materials, meetings, and even in official documentation. But what do these words even mean? The executive level management team throws them around and expects employees to alter their working habits, attitudes, and goals to adjust and align to the new buzz.

While most leaders and managers understand what organizations are trying to do, sometimes the message can get lost in the shuffle down through managers and teams, and under workloads. But rarely do we actually stop and think about what certain words mean, or the words we use in daily conversation and in the delegation of tasks.

This is why leadership and language are so important. A leader is certainly responsible for certain managerial tasks, one of which most likely includes overseeing a team of people. However, how a leader functions within that team is what truly makes him or her a leader. A leader doesn’t just run reports, answer questions, and see that work and projects get done; this is a manger. A real leader encourages a team member to reach his or her goals and succeed, and uses the appropriate language to make this happen.

For example, let’s say your organization and its stakeholders all have one common goal or focus: education or community. Then organizational leaders would want to utilize language within teams that corresponds with this focus. Some keywords that may apply here could include educate, inspire, create, or learn; or centered, unified, common, interaction, or participation. Remember, this isn’t a glorified Thesaurus or “free association” task; language is carefully selected so that it accurately pertains to team and organizational focus and goals.

The idea is for successful and wise leaders to use this vocabulary and integrate it into team goals and everyday tasks. The more leaders use them, the more team members will catch on and begin to align their work habits and attitudes along with the organizational focus. This isn’t about brainwashing here, but we’ve all heard the phrase that a laughter and smile is contagious; language and attitudes are too. The more leaders are language-centered, the more teams will be too.

Who knew that language could be so closely tied to teams, management, and overall organizational operations? Language is elemental to a leader’s and team’s overall attitude and success. How can you integrate the right language into your team that is accurately aligned with organizational goals? Regardless of whether you are a team leader, entrepreneur, project manager, supervisor, or small business owner, integrate the use of language. Study the organization’s mission statement, team member goals, or even stakeholder correspondence to see which kind of language is used, and then work to find links between team member tasks and attitudes. Language is true leadership.

5 Trends that Project Managers Hate

At the core of project management are planning, organizing and controlling various elements. The goal is obviously the success of the project. The project may be a product, a specific result or a service aimed to be rendered. Various aspects involved in project management require foresight and the acknowledgement of possible constraints. The challenge does not end in simply recognizing them, but it progresses into overcoming them. However, there are always instances, despite being predictable, that may always seem too overwhelming. You may foresee these scenarios, but you can never really be sure that you can overcome them.

Businessman goes nuts while overworked {shot on PhaseOne P45}

So what happens when certain uncontrollable trends work for the disadvantage of managing your project? What do you do when certain events today do not go well with the plans you’ve made to attain your goal? What trends threaten the success of certain project management?

1.       Globalization

Nowadays, the borders of everyone’s reach have been pushed further and further. In what experts now call a Global World, people have connections that transcend countries. You can now reach people from all over the world. This change may seem like a contributing factor to the success of managing your projects. In fact, it actually is, or at least, it can be.

Globalization allows you to have workers from the other side of the world, or from any part of the world for that matter. Outsourcing may be the new norm. Outsourcing allows project managers to acquire the services of people from any country. The arrangement has lower production costs and allows for the availability of workers from different time-zones. In these aspects, globalization may seem like a gift to all project managers; however, experts see some harm in outsourcing. Experts are worried that the long distance that separates employer and employee may be grounds for the growth of poor quality of service. Part of the task of any project manager is checking the degree at which his employees achieve the goal of their specific tasks, and when your worker is continents away from you, checking may not be done as easily.

2. Communication Woes

New trends in communication are the means by which project managers are able to talk to employees from different countries. Emails, text messaging, mobile calls and even video chats are new ways by which communication is done now. Face-to-face meetings may as well be obsolete.

This trend of non-personal communication may prove to be harmful to any project as valuable information may be lost or may be incorrectly communicated through these non-conventional forms of communication. The advances in technology may work against you and your team if you don’t use it well. Compounded with the possibility of working with people from all around the world, communication cannot be more important. Despite it being possible, it doesn’t always mean that it is workable. Talking to team members from another continent may be possible today, but it doesn’t ensure complete understanding. There is nothing that project managers hate more than misinterpretation of instructions and impersonal communication makes it easy for this to happen. In these situations, it may actually do best to talk in person, where explanations and instructions can be maximized.

3. Inter-Cultural Workforce

Working with people from different countries requires relating to people with different cultures. Today, the project board-rooms may be filled with a plurality of nationalities. Different races, different roots all working for a single goal: the success of the project. It may seem like a perfect picture of unity, but it isn’t necessarily easy to achieve.

There is a trend in multi-cultural corporations and project teams. It goes without saying that our cultures predispose us into a certain way of thinking, which means that a workroom with a number of nationalities, logically, is also filled with a number of ways of thinking. This variation in thinking entails an equal variation in the way each worker is approached. When relating to workers, employees or even employers of a different culture, you must be sensitive to their beliefs and personal values. The challenge is how you, as the project manager, will wield these individual variations in traits and manage them into one efficient workforce that is driven towards the fulfillment of your project. Without doing so, the entire project may end up being a tragic melting pot of nations.

4. Fast Changing Technology

Today, trends in technology change as fast as a heartbeat. What counts as a hip and trendy mobile phone now is rendered obsolete come a few months. Computer memories have grown from mega to terra. The idea of a portable, hand-carried gadget makes desktop and immovable machines disadvantageous. With this fast changing technology, it may be hard for some project managers to catch up.

This trend affects the project in different ways. One, it makes it an imperative for project managers to continually update the gadgets of the office. One computer program may have to be replaced by a better version of it every now and then, for example. The need to keep up is costly and its rewards may be uncertain. Another way is through the projects’ attempts to communicate itself with the customer. Trends in technology change how the project may be relayed to people. Internet marketing, for example, follows trends in social networking websites. These websites outclass each other every once in a while, thus, the advertisement must also go with the flow by advertising itself where more people are active.

5. Changing World-Views

Perhaps what aggravates the difficulty that project managers face in difference in cultural backgrounds is the fluidity of these cultures. Today, there is a division in culture, but these cultures are also changing in themselves.

Cultural norms and practices are ever-changing, and even more so today. Cultural groups become more accepting of things and more disapproving of others. This unpredictable trend in cultural development makes it harder for project managers to predict which approach will work better in their attempt to communicate their project. What counts as taboo today may be tolerated tomorrow; in the same way, what is freely accepted today may be banned the next. The difficulty in apprehending these changes makes it difficult for project managers to assume the success of their goals.

 

Business Metrics Dashboard Design and Implementation

In today’s fast, busy, and technologically-driven society, it’s all about quick, fast, and hard data. We are no longer a patient society. We want information, we want it fast, and we want it in our faces. Some blame technology for our dependence and need for fast data and our impatience. Regardless of the reason, we now live and operate in a society that is continuously developing methods to gather and present data in the quickest and most straightforward method possible.

So when we talk about a business metrics dashboard. What do we mean? How does this pertain to project managers and small business?

Business metrics can include:

  • Sales data (daily, monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.)
  • Revenue
  • Project completion status
  • Top project risks and/or issues
  • Project milestones timeline
  • Schedule of tasks, their deadlines, and estimated completion dates
  • Project costs, time, and materials
  • Percentage of growth

Basically, any type of data that a project manager or small business owner wants to show or needs to follow on a regular basis is an example of a business metric.

Now, that we understand a little bit better of what business metrics are, we can talk about how to present this data in a clear and organized form. So how do we do this? What is the most effective way to combine and condense all the data we need to see and review for a project all on one screen? This can certainly be challenging. A project team can start by designing, sketching or creating a draft of what they want and how they want their dashboard to look like.

Here are some tips on what to consider when drafting your business metrics dashboard:

  • Choose an attractive color scheme and font style so it is aesthetically pleasing
  • Provide as much description in context as possible
  • Avoid clutter and “junk”, such as images, widgets, and other unimportant media
  • Dashboards should be as clear as possible
  • Arrange and organize data efficiently
  • Dashboards should represent both project efficiencies and inefficiencies
  • Communicate data effectively
  • Share data effectively

These are just some ways to represent data and create an effective, attractive, and organized visual display of project information and data. Depending on the purpose for creating the dashboard, whether you are a project manager studying the schedule of tasks, project milestones, phases, and other project-related specs and information or a CFO managing and monitoring all sales, revenue, and other financial information, or a small business owner who needs to moderate all business facets including finances, projects, sales and organizational goals, and percentage of growth, you can tailor the dashboard design to include the necessary metrics needed for your particular area of the business.

So what can we gather from studying a business metrics dashboard? Business metrics should help organize and streamline data. But why? What do small businesses and project managers gain by having data all on one screen, other than convenience and making it look pretty? Business metrics dashboards can help and assist with decision-making. Ultimately it should provide business owners and project managers with the power to deliver the right decision and support at the right time.

Does Your Project or Small Business Need a “War Room”?

So you need to brainstorm or “put the pieces together” for a new project or your small business. But maybe you need a little help coming up with ideas, organizing, or just a space to focus on your small business or project. If either of these situations or something similar pertains to you or your small business, consider setting up a “war room”.

It sounds humorous, doesn’t it? A “war room”. In fact it might feel like just that. This is basically a project team’s or a manager’s own space that consists of everything that has to do with a particular project or small business. A “war room” usually has a bulletin or dry erase board, a table, chairs, project props, and any other items or furniture pertinent to working on or discussing a project. Although it may seem like an oxymoron, as a “war room” should provide team members and project managers with a place to think and organize, it actually looks like a cluttered mess, hence the name. However, project managers like to refer to this as “organized chaos”, which is supposed to spark and stimulate creativity.

“War rooms” have actually existed in business for quite some time. Project managers became huge fans of them, especially since they have proven especially helpful to projects of major or complex buys. This is because these types of projects that involve a lot of risks, phases, and procurements require a sound management plan and risk response plan in order to tackle the project effectively from all angles. A “war room” is also where team embers gather and bring their “worries”. It’s a common meting area for the sole purpose of discussing, brainstorming, and working together on a major project.

Although “war rooms” are still a very popular project management project response method, many organizations have replaced the idea of the “war room” with a concept from the twenty-first century and that is a “war site” or a website. This website can be a website or wiki, which is a virtual common area to post and share all project related information and ideas. This is prefect since so many project teams today are virtual and work off site or remotely. It is still a vital visual component to project organization where team members can post ideas, suggestions, or study project information that is already gathered and organized. A “war site” is also a cost effective approach as it saves on office space, time, materials, and furniture.

“War rooms” or “war sites” can also work for small businesses. It is a great way to brainstorm or organize a marketing plan, business plan, or even a particular project or service for a large client. “War sites” are actually more popular for many start up businesses since most don’t usually have the extra office space to dedicate to such a large project or part of the business, if they have the space at all. If you and your small business or team prefer to work with a “war site”‘ the project manager can take charge and take “ownership” of operating, managing, and updating the site, or he or she can promote a project team member to manage the task and make sure all tram members are actively using the site and stay informed.

All in all, “war rooms” may seem humorous or even a dated strategy, but they are still a highly effective brainstorming and organizing method for major or complex projects, special projects requiring a lot of time and development, or even a place to organize that small business.