Win At Project Management By Avoiding These 5 Common Pitfalls

In the world of project management, there has been an increase in the number of ill-equipped people being pulled into not only managing their own work, but the work of others too. Each day more people are thrust into the role of “accidental project manager” and for some, are unprepared for that role.

 

Help them to regain their footing and succeed in project management by identifying these 5 common pitfalls and discovering ways to avoid falling into these traps.

  1. Poor Planning. In most cases, the problem always starts at the beginning of the project. If not enough time is spent on outlining the scope of the project, not getting all the stakeholders on the same page, or not aligning the project with the company vision, you can run into some serious problems.

Avoid missing the mark by taking time to map out the process of each project. While creating this map, include interim milestones, deliverable dates and a budget to present to the stakeholders and keep yourself and your team on track.

 

  1. Manual Processes. If you’re keeping an excel spreadsheet with individual email addresses, follow up emails, deadlines, how many hours are spent each week on a project, and so on, you’re doing way too much manual work. We live in a technology age and there are countless programs and software to help you keep tasks organized and stay on track with your deadlines.

While you research to find the best software program to meet your needs and your team’s needs, look for something that allows everyone, from employees to stakeholders, to be able to log in and see the status of the project. In addition, find one that allows for automatic reminders, calendar functions, and a dedicated platform to communicate with each member of the team.

  1. Disconnected Tools. How are you managing your time?  For most people, they are using up to 13 various methods to control and manage their time. From email to spreadsheets, smartphone apps to cloud based programs, there is a lot of software out there to help you. However, if you’re spending more time updating your various programs, all you’re doing is wasting valuable time.

 

Find a work management program to help consolidate the various information you have scattered around these various tools. When looking for the best software to meet your needs, make sure the software allows for everyone to access it, view the project status, task scheduling, and promotes collaboration.

  1. Lack of Measurement and Correction. Over the course of a project, many individuals may pull back and disengage from the project. In this situation, the lack of objectively understanding what went wrong (or right), finger pointing, or disengagement may have contributed to the failure of the project.

Keep everyone accountable to the project by setting goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) to help employees stay on track and have something to present to stakeholders. Track the progress of your goals throughout the project to ensure everyone is meeting their individual and overall project goals. Also, by knowing where everyone is in the project, the better you’ll be at identifying a problem and addressing the situation before it becomes a serious issue.

  1. Command and Control Thinking. A lot of project management comes down to your employees, managers, and stakeholders. Is there someone on the team who has a problem adjusting to the new tools available, insists on status meetings, or forgets to open the management software to see where everyone stands on the project?

With the changes technology and software brings to project management, take some time to train and empower your employees to participate with the new program. Change isn’t always easy for some and providing them with the resources and training to better use the software can help them make the change more effectively. To understand the full value of the system, it is important to have everyone in the company using the software (making the program mandatory).

 

Help set yourself up and your team for success by taking time to consider these project management pitfalls and where you can improve. When it comes to success, it’s a team effort and you want to make sure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal. With the right tools, you can reach your goals and pull the team together.

 

About the Author: Brooke Cade is a freelance writer with Workfront. When she is not writing, Brooke is committed to learning more about helping businesses and marketing professionals succeed with their project management goals.

Making the Most of Managing Your Business in the Age of Cloud Software

People management is no walk in the park.

People have personalities, conflicts, and often act in unpredictable ways, but the greatest leaders in history were all able to manage their people in ways that merged each team member’s skills into a greater whole.

Many methods have been developed to make managing a team more effective:

  • The MBA program was specifically designed to create talented leaders who can manage businesses more efficiently.
  • All sorts of guides that are devoted to solving various management issues are now readily available. Using the Internet and your local business directory, you can locate business books, demo videos, speakers, and consultants, with prices ranging from free to thousands of dollars.

These resources exist to address one main question:

How do you run a successful business?

Part of the answer lies in the evolution of business records.

As computer use has increased in the past two decades, businesses have gone from analog to digital. With the Internet, businesses are moving from local digital to storing all of their records online. At this day and age where everything is online, managers are rethinking silos and looking for options where everything can be integrated with other programs.

The current trend is toward online service providers that offer integration, that provide seamless business solutions that are essentially invisible. Savvy managers want apps that are greater than the sum of their components.

Smart IT companies are providing those solutions. And with all the competition out there, prices are shrinking, and services via the Internet are becoming more and more affordable.

Cloud software for optimal business management

In order to create and run the most successful business possible, you need to adopt the best online management options available.

Below are five business aspects where cloud software can help you manage your business better:

Communication

The “traditional” approach to team communication is by email. Email is a great way to communicate quickly and efficiently, with one or many employees.

But what happens when you want to do more, like create deadlines or chat quickly with employees?

It can be a hassle to use multiple apps, as toggling between different apps to get things done can easily become confusing, time-consuming, and frustrating.

A better way to communicate within a team is by using cloud software that combines all forms of communication.

For example:

  • Flow is a cloud-based tool that lets you chat, discuss and plan projects all in one spot, so you don’t have to use different apps to accomplish varying tasks.
  • Intercom is another resource that lets you communicate better with customers. It allows you to do live chat, marketing automation, customer feedback, and customer support all in one application.

Accountability and productivity

Traditionally, to ensure and enhance accountability and productivity from each member, company leaders must exhaust a number of measures, which include, among others, close monitoring of the employees’ progress on assigned tasks, a regular meeting to make sure everyone’s abreast of goals and updates, and a carefully crafted incentives and rewards program to keep employees motivated to work.

Fortunately, these functions can now be more efficiently managed using a cloud-based productivity tool.

Taskworld is cloud-based software used to delegate tasks, set deadlines, track progress, and post updates. It allows a project lead or a team head to evaluate how a member has performed on an assigned task.

Organizational efficiency

Arguably the most important element that determines a company’s success, organizational efficiency involves carefully studied metrics and a well-designed organizational structure that dictates how members function within the organization.

Organizational efficiency involves a lot of data and business intelligence to enact key decisions, such as who should lead a team, should a service or product be outsourced or made in-house, and so on, all for the goal of increasing the bottom line.

To keep up with present market and industry needs, businesses now ensure that they utilize the leading tools that could help them boost efficiency.

An example is Zoho Reports which is a user-friendly reporting and data analysis tool. It helps companies collect data and create reports and analyses that aid them in making crucial decisions within the company.

Payroll

Before payroll software, keeping track of employee time was tedious. There used to be one or more persons in the business tasked to collate every employee’s time logs and then record them manually.

Now, everyone can simply submit their timesheets online, and they can be quickly, easily and efficiently accessed by the people who need the information.

Gusto is a payroll system that allows you to automate and simplify your timekeeping and payroll functions, saving companies’ time and resources, which could then be used on more value-adding activities.

Accounting

Before the advent of the Internet, accounting required the help of an actual accountant. A large chunk of time is used to keep track of every business detail, every financial data. And then when a report is needed, an accountant is contacted to interpret your records.

Today, a better approach is to use cloud-based accounting software. The advantage of this kind of tool is that data becomes accessible regardless of location and type of device.

ZipBooks is free accounting software that is ideally suited for modern businesses. It lets users keep track of invoices and send out invoices whenever needed.

Final word

In a dynamic world, businesses must adapt to the changing needs of the market. Hence, most business leaders are always on the lookout for products and solutions that their organizations not only can benefit from but could also differentiate them from the competition.

Fortunately, software companies help address this through constant innovation and development of tools and services. The above tools are but a few that businesses could use to evolve and grow.

Help! My Project is Falling off the Rails

It’s all too common a tale. Your project was going well then something happened… a vendor let you down with a delivery date, there were problems around commissioning or testing, or the end product, whatever it is, simply does not work. This bump in the road may not always be the fatalistic thing it appears to be at the time. In fact if your project has gone well and you’ve zoomed though the various phases it may be the perfect time for some backwards and forwards looking assessment. If your project is a long one, through many months or even years, I might be bold enough to even suggest you may get an better end result for the chance to stop for a moment and take stock.

How can that be? Well, you have to fix the problem sure, but a savvy PM will be doing some other activities here too:

  • Of course rectify the issue… speak to your vender, organise a technical specialist, re-test. A no-brainer really but in parallel to that review your schedule. In my view schedule management is the number one tool of your trade as a PM. What does it tell you? Is this a critical path issue? If so can you benefit in some way from the delay?
  • Ask yourself what you know now about the impact of this project that you didn’t know at the beginning. Under no circumstances should you be looking to increase the scope at this point (unless the client/sponsor states there is an obvious need) but you can use this new knowledge in your change management plan if you haven’t already. Are there other projects in the organisation that are now underway that have a similar characteristics or audience, can you share resources along the way?
  • Write or talk face to face with your sponsor about the nature of the problem and the impact of the delay. Mary organisations will have a formal mechanism or project management methodology for this but perhaps surprisingly many don’t. The importance of communicating shouldn’t be overlooked in the panic to get back on track. It also doesn’t hurt to include any additional value you may be able to add because of the delay.
  • Ensure there are no surprises to any of your stakeholders including end users. Again, where there is a formal project control structure this may be taken care of. Where there isn’t it can solely be the job of the PM to ensure all involved understand what’s happened.

Often a well managed project that has incurred some delays will not be seen as a project failure. Perceptions of project failure arise when stakeholders don’t know what is happening or why or what the impact and cost will be.

In a nutshell, communicate often and well. Your project will be back on track in no time and crucially, seen as a success.

This is a guest post from author Louise Gardner of http://www.pledgeconsulting.com.au/ .

7 Tips on How to Deal with a Failing Project

Everyone faces failure in their lives. It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, no project manager has ever gone through their career without seeing a project fail. It’s devastating, and you always wonder how it could have happened. To help you prevent this and save a project that is starting to go downhill, here are my top 7 tips on how to deal with a failing project.

  • Be prepared

The best project managers will not only plan for success, but failure as well. Naturally, everyone wants their project to succeed and they work hard to make sure it does, but there will be times when certain things are simply beyond your control.

One of the best ways to anticipate and prepare for situations like this is to have a strategy for how you would react to failure. Make sure to have a plan for spotting the problem early, dealing with the consequences, and of course the financial repercussions. This will give you a safety net and a clear road map of what to do.

If you need some help with this, Activia Training has some great courses that give an introduction to project management, and which cover effective project planning, as well as spotting and dealing with potential risks.

  • Watch out for the warning signs

It’s important to watch out for the warning signs and plan your exits at every stage of the project. More experienced project managers will recognise these early signs and know how to be cautious. Things such as unexpected and unexplainable delays, stressed team members, or unusually slow progress will, for example, make them sit up and take notice.

If you know these warning signs and act quickly enough, you can stop a failure from happening. And even if you can’t prevent failure, you can at least pull out before the damage is too extensive.

  • Set up an assessment meeting

As soon as the project starts to go downhill, gather your team members and conduct a meeting. Make sure to open the lines of communication and invite suggestions from your team members, and get their perspective on what went wrong.

Go over the project and asses every step you and your team took. This meeting is one of the best and most important steps you can take because, if it’s executed properly, it’ll stop you from making the same mistakes in the future even if this particular project can’t be saved.

  • No excuses, no blame

When a project fails, it’s natural for people to look for someone to blame. However, this is not the right way to deal with the situation and you need to actively discourage this from the beginning. Everyone should accept that, unfortunately, errors do happen and it’s much better to learn from them and move on than start blaming each other.

On the other hand, what you should encourage among your team is accountability. For example, if someone feels like they made a mistake, they need to step up and let everyone else know. This article from Developer Fusion talks about this – as well as common excuses for project failure – in more detail.

  • Focus on improvement

As I mentioned before, the focus shouldn’t be on blaming others, or the fact that the project is failing. You need to focus on what you can do to avoid similar problems in the future. If you think miscommunication within the team was responsible for the failure of the project, arrange for better communication workshops and training. You need to look at all the weaknesses that lead to project failure and come up with ways to improve them.

  • Keep a note of the things you’ve learned

One of the best ways to improve your future projects is to keep a detailed note of all the things that went wrong with previous projects that failed, and come up with ways to improve them.

You can use this experience to improve training methods and teach new employees as well, which would reduce the likelihood of the mistakes happening again. Sensible PM has a great list of things you can learn from these projects and how exactly you can use these to your advantage.

  • Reuse and recycle

If there is no way to save your project, think about what areas of your project you can reuse for some other job. It makes no sense to discard something you’ve dedicated so much time and effort to if it can be reused for a different project. Identify these things and set them aside. If you find a project you can fit them in later on, the effort won’t go to waste.

Can you think of any other ways to deal with a failing projects? Let us know in the comments below.

7 Hints You’re Overdue For Project Management Software

Companies are focused on growth out of necessity. However, sometimes they reach a milestone and look back with dismay to find their workflow hasn’t grown along with them. The needs and demands of a growing business are incredibly complex and challenging, which means that tools made for their specific industry can’t keep up the pace. So when is the right time to look into project management software for your team? If you spot any of the following seven telltale signs, it might be time to determine which software meets your collective needs.

Communication Looks More Like Litter

Piles upon piles of sticky notes, stacks of well-loved notebooks and inboxes overflowing with “Re:re:re:re Monday Project Meeting” subject lines are all examples of ineffective communication on a growth scale. If you need to sift through previous notes each time you need a piece of information, or worse, confuse one set of data for another in the fray, you’re cruising towards a problem. Project management software will help you establish discovery and communication paths to prevent mistakes or wasted researching time.

Your Inbox Feels Like Quicksand

If you sit down in the morning to “just respond to that one email” and suddenly look up to find it’s lunchtime, your email inbox is ruling your work life. Multiply that obstacle by each member in your team and you have a huge waste of time cutting into your resource budget. Project management software streamlines your missives into a single cohesive dashboard and clarifies the questions that usually result in that same “Re:re:re:re Monday Project Meeting” email we’ve already given the side-eye to.

Projects? More Like Piles!

It’s not unusual to work on more than one project at once, or to juggle a few sub-projects, but that doesn’t have to mean losing the entirety of your “desk real estate.” If your projects are turning into looming towers (both mentally and physically) of paperwork, folders and notebooks, you’d be far better off with a digital, tab-based system. Project management software makes it easy to switch back and forth between projects as needed, reducing confusion and frustration.

Any Delegation Requires Aspirin

Even on great days, project management can feel more like herding cats than leading a team, but sometimes even that gets out of hand. If you wince at the thought of following up, or find yourself taking on heavier workloads because it’s “not worth the hassle” of assigning various tasks manually, you definitely need software for project management.

Meetings Devour Your Time

Meetings are necessary and expected through the course of a project, but if your hour-long 3:00 pm brainstorms constantly end up stretching to 4:30 with little progress, it’s time to call in the digital calvary. Mini-meetings between key players can often get more done in shorter amounts of time, ensuring that your team is back at their desks when they need to be. Software dashboards make it easy to coordinate schedules, monitor progress and communicate one-on-one for more efficient communication.

Your Team’s Motivation Seems to Evaporate

From an employee standpoint, nothing saps energy more consistently than having to sit through (or in) endless meetings that don’t involve their responsibilities, or inclusion in a perpetual “Reply All” email chain that discusses project problems that were fixed long ago. Inefficiency spreads like a virus in a busy office, and if you’re struggling to complete your tasks in a timely manner with minimal waste, you can be sure your team is experiencing the same thing. Introducing project management software sends a clear message: we have a plan, we’re all going to follow it, and here’s how we’re going to do it.

You Aren’t Sure Where You Stand

This may be the biggest red flag of all. If you need to frantically “check into a few things” in order to give a clear answer on project progress, you don’t really know where your team is, in terms of the project. Consistently using a dashboard keeps you on-target as a manager, and keyed into important project developments as they happen. This reduces stumbling in front of clients or C-suite executives, and ultimately makes you a better professional with better results to offer.

About Umesh Lalwaniumesh-lalwani-blog-author
Previously founded and managed Assigncorp, an IT company for 15 years. The company grew to USD 13 Million a year. Umesh has a passion for understanding individual tendencies and team dynamics towards collaboration and getting things done.To learn more visit http://www.grapple.co/

Small Business Project Management Tips to Keep You Sane

Professional project managers and even small business entrepreneurs know that running or starting a new business, client account or project can be nothing short of crazy. There are a lot of factors, risks, and specifications to take note of and consider, not to mention plan a marketing strategy, risk response plan, business plan, and procurement process. So how does one project manager or entrepreneur deal with it all and still be successful?

1.)  Put Together a Business Plan or Prototype. When you are first starting out as an entrepreneur or project manager, you need a plan of attack. How will your business function? Where do you see yourself in five years? What does the outcome of your project look like? What are the stakeholder requirements? To answer all these questions, it’s best if you put together some type of business plan or strategy or even build a prototype so you can better gauge certain factors or what the outcome of your business or project will look like.

2.)  Think Creatively. We’ve talked many times on how creative thinking is an asset to any small business or project. What stands a business a part from its competition? What makes your project successful for your customers? How does your creative problem solving skills help the overall outcome and success of your project? All these questions can be answered with creativity. Thinking outside the box will surely lead to over project management and entrepreneurial success.

3.)  Seek Professional Advice. If you are brand new to the world of project management or starting a business, do your homework. Do some research on some proper project management methodologies and strategies or do some field or market research within the industry of your business. You can also interview other professionals and seek their advice. A lot of business and project management success comes from networking and working with others. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

4.)  Sleep. Yeah, right. Seems impossible…especially for new project managers or entrepreneurs. However, this is also one of the simplest (sort of) and most important things you can do. When your head hits the pillow each night, this is when you need to shut off the floodgates and focus on getting a good night’s sleep. Easier said than done, right? Of course this isn’t always going to be easy, but remember that you will function much better, enhance creative thinking, and be able to make better decisions and think more clearly with a good night’s sleep.

All in all, becoming a project manager or entrepreneur and running your own business is certainly a huge challenge and doesn’t fall short of its responsibilities and challenges. However, if project managers and entrepreneurs take the time to incorporate the above tips into their methodologies, success will become much easier to achieve. Of course there will be risks, challenges, and obstacles, but there will also be success and a great sense of accomplishment. Becoming a project manager or starting your own business might just be the hardest yet most rewarding thing you do.

 

Cultivating a Robust Organization: 5 Stages of the Innovation Process

Most business leaders recognize the value of innovation. In a study from consulting firm Accenture, 93 percent of executives surveyed said that their organization’s long-term success depends on developing new ideas. However, only 18 percent of leaders believed their company’s innovation efforts delivered a competitive advantage, despite an increase in business investments for innovation.

Why are businesses unsuccessful with innovation? Accenture notes that only 46 percent of companies had an effective and holistic process for new products and services. And according to an exploratory study of more than 30 companies in the United States and Europe, researchers found that companies generally lack a process to guide innovation.

In too many organizations, innovation occurs by serendipity rather than by deliberate management. Without a process to understand, stimulate, and analyze innovation and an organization’s strengths and weaknesses around innovation, most companies rely upon serendipity.

Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice

Backed by an effective innovation process, managers can advocate for and help create what researchers in the Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice study call robust organizations. These companies “have found a recipe for sustainable innovation programs rather than mere spurts of innovation,” and the study defines specific stages that are most common to sustained, successful innovation.

1.    Idea Generation and Mobilization

New ideas are created during idea generation. Mobilization occurs when the idea is moved to a different physical or logical location, such as an outside firm or another department.

Inspiration for a new idea can originate from an improvement of an existing idea, or something from scratch. The Atlantic explains how Apple waited three years after MP3 players were introduced to create the iPod, which was attractive, intuitive and offered capacity for up to 1,000 songs. Conversely, the invention of Scotch tape was a brand new idea. Priceonomics tells the story of Richard Drew, a college dropout who joined 3M, saw a need for a type of tape that wouldn’t ruin paint on cars and overcame hurdles to complete his invention.

As a result of Drew’s work ethic, 3M provides employees with time (15 percent of their workday) to explore ideas outside of their work assignments. Other organizations have followed this model, and robust organizations in general provide employees with the time and resources to innovate. According to Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, managers must emphasize innovation to the right extent — “overemphasizing need will cause some employees to leave for more stable jobs,” while “not emphasizing it enough will decrease urgency and idea generation across the board.”

2.    Advocacy and Screening

Not all ideas are worth implementing. Advocacy and screening help evaluate an idea and measure its potential benefits and problems. From there, a decision can be made about an idea’s future.

One of the biggest advantages for the joint processes of advocacy and screening is refinement. If the idea has potential, discussions and arguments help enhance it. The study in Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice mentions how this stage prepares an idea for upper management, which can call for a different approach. Because idea generators don’t always have the skills to advocate for their ideas, managers working with the idea generator can facilitate, encourage and support the person.

Companies looking to build a robust culture can establish a few best practices for this step. First, employees should have plenty of avenues to receive advocacy and feedback. Second, organizations must understand the difficulties involved with evaluating truly innovative ideas. Third, organizations need to build transparent evaluation and screening protocols.

3.    Experimentation

The experimentation stage tests an idea, such as with a prototype or pilot test. Researchers in Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice carefully note that “Experimentation does not test an idea’s objective merits, but the suitability for a particular organization at a particular time.” Some ideas “might be ahead of their time or beyond the present capacity of the company … [they] may be set aside into an idea bank or idea library for development at a later time.”

Experimentation can remain continuous or exist in spurts, as advocates and screeners reevaluate an idea. Sometimes, experimentation leads to new ideas due to information that is gathered on the results and the overall feasibility of the original idea. Time is crucial in this process; individuals must be given adequate time to run the experiments. As refinements and evaluations occur, they must be given enough time to reflect on the experiments.

Many businesses experiment with new products and services, such as grocery stores. One innovation came in 2007, when Amazon tested its grocery delivery service in certain Seattle suburbs. After this successful experiment, Amazon Fresh expanded to Los Angeles, San Diego and New York City; New Jersey and the United Kingdom are the latest locations Amazon has targeted.

4.    Commercialization

Commercialization aims to create market value for an idea by focusing on its potential impact. This step makes the idea appealing to the audience, such as by packaging an idea with other ideas, clarifying how and when the idea can be used, and using data or prototypes from experiments to demonstrate benefits.

An important part of commercialization is establishing the specifications of any given idea. “The promises and potentials of the earlier stages of innovation must be discarded so that the actual benefits of the new innovation can be perceived and communicated,” researchers wrote in Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice. Once an idea is refined, it can appropriately target and meet the needs of the audience.

Commercialization is the stage of the innovation process when the focus shifts from development to persuasion. After the idea is clarified and a business plan is created, it will be ready for diffusion and implementation.

5.    Diffusion and Implementation

“Diffusion and implementation are two sides of the same coin,” researchers wrote in Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice. Diffusion is the companywide acceptance of an innovative idea, and implementation sets up everything needed to develop and utilize or produce the innovation.

Diffusion happens at all levels of an organization. This process is often aided by knowledge brokers, who are effective at presenting an innovation by using their awareness of “the specific content and application into which an idea, product or service can be inserted.” As a result, knowledge brokers are able to assist with rapid implementation.

The use or application of the innovation should be demonstrated by the end of this stage, along with acceptance of the innovation. For the innovation to succeed, it will need the proper resources, a marketing plan for customers and an open culture with strong advocacy. Also important to diffusion and implementation is the opportunity for future ideas; this final stage allows the organization to determine the next set of needs for customers. Receiving feedback, in addition to indicators for success metrics and other benchmarks, enables the organization to stimulate the innovation process once again.

Innovation and Business

Innovation poses challenges. If one step of the process is weak or if a company lacks a systematic process for accepting and nurturing innovative ideas, the organization will rely on serendipity. But with the right approach, mindset and resources, a company can reap the strategic benefits of growth.

Managers play a vital role in an organization that meets the challenges of innovation. In Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, the study outlines key areas where managers can assist with the process of innovation.

  • Managers need to pay constant attention to operational details of innovation projects. Managers should keep an eye on how their projects are doing, and, to ease the burden of this task, they can establish a learning-focused environment that encourages employees to explore and generate new ideas.
  • Managers need to be clear about how ideas are selected and evaluated. Clear-cut protocols are a feature of robust organizations, and these protocols help managers keep their focus on the processes of robust innovation.
  • Managers must quickly respond to external constituents and provide their opinions for experimentation. The right questions can help guide this process to make it effective and relevant.
  • Managers need to pay attention to customer desires and perceptions. Creative use of technology, such as data mining and pervasive computing infrastructure, is important.

Managers can help establish a culture of innovation. An open and supportive environment can lead to organizational success, as well as recognition and professional growth for employees who offer contributions. Aside from building an innovative culture, managers can help an organization and its employees in other areas. At Rivier University, the online MBA program allows students to expand their knowledge of core business concepts — such as project management, organizational dynamics, accounting and more — to develop a better understanding of the industry and how to be successful.

Ready, Set…Reach: Business Management Goals

As trends and business objectives and strategies shift, it seems that businesses are constantly changing their dynamics and operations to increase efficiency and decrease costs, as well as overhead. As a result, the demand for project management skills, as well as a PMO has increased significantly. Here are some ways that aligning project management with business management can streamline operations and increase efficiency, without the cost.

Ready, Set…Reach. First and foremost, implementing project management strategies can help businesses not only define their goals but execute strategies to reach them and in a timely manner. Project managers and even PMOs have the ability to look at a business and objectives from a different light, as this can sometimes be difficult for entrepreneurs who are whole-heartedly invested in their entities.

Project management teams will be able to define business objectives, set quantifiable and qualitative goals, deadlines, assign tasks to accomplish each milestone, recruit resources and suppliers, and even manage budgets.

The 4 D’s. Regardless of project size, subject, and complexity, project managers can implement the “4 D’s” to any business management project. The four D’s include: Define, Design, Develop, and Deliver. Project managers or a PMO can define business goals and objectives, put together a strategy or production plan to meet them, execute action items and monitor activities to reach those goals and objectives, and then finally “deliver” the outcome.

Boost Performance. Finally, recruiting a project management team can assist entrepreneurs and businesses to boost performance. Performance is based on and measured by data analytics today. How quickly can teams acquire data to measure performance and strategize accordingly is in big demand today. However, working with a project manager or PMO can make all the difference. Executing a plan to reach business goals and objectives, and properly aligning business management with project management can certainly boost performance, reach goals and objectives, and strengthen the organization as a whole.

Project Close-Out. Some businesses might think that recruiting a project manager or project management team, or even outsourcing to a PMO can be costly. However, project managers are bred to work within even the tightest of budgets. A good project manager will work to ensure that a project is completed and delivered within budget constraints but without sacrificing quality. This can certainly be a challenge, but it is entirely possible with the right resources and experience.

Finally, a project management team or PMO can work with any business or entity on aligning business goals and objectives in order to launch a new product or idea, restructure teams while increasing work flows and productivity, rework a marketing plan, or even reorganize and reposition an entity in order to reach goals and objectives. Regardless of the entity, product or service, or project complexity, aligning project management with business management is the answer.

How Project Managers Maintain Their Mental Health

It’s no secret that project management comes with its challenging and stressful days. From putting out fires to problem-solving to a phone that never seems to stop ringing, it’s a wonder some project managers keep from tearing through the hallways screaming.

The truth is, project management isn’t always as easy as it looks. And for those project managers who are really good at keeping a sane, calm demeanor, are probably wreaking havoc to their mental states.

So how do project managers keep a straight face, tackle problems, and stay calm on those days when all hell breaks loose? Here are some tips to help project managers stay great project managers and also maintain their mental health.

Stay Calm. First and foremost, no matter what the job throws at you, it’s important to remember to stay calm. If necessary, take a walk to calm down and take a breather. Most project managers can’t fathom walking away or taking a break from a problem once it arises, however, most would also agree that allowing time away from the issue allows project managers to regroup, collect their thoughts, and address the problem from a calmer state.

Keep Emotions out of It. Try to keep the intense emotions out of every situation. Even if a customer or team member is heightened emotionally—or calls you screaming—it’s extremely important to remember not to respond negatively and take it personally. There’s a reason he or she is upset; therefore, the best approach is to listen at what their true concerns are and address them accordingly. Sometimes negative emotions are just a cry for help.

Communicate Clearly. One way to address that upset team member or screaming customer is proper communication. After practicing active listening and really hearing another individual’s problems or concerns, it’s the project manager’s chance to effectively and clearly respond to his or her concerns, show compassion, and provide and offer solutions and/or problem-solve as needed.

Before offering or providing solutions, it may be necessary to take the problem down a notch. For example, it may be necessary to smooth over the conflict and take down the tone and language by showing some compassion and understanding for an individual’s concerns. You don’t have to agree with what the individual might be claiming, but you will have to deal with it. And it’s best to deal with it from a less emotional state.

There are also a number of stress-reducing strategies project managers have perfected over their time and experience in the field. The above tips will certainly help keep a project manager from blowing up, jumping out the window, or doing or saying something he or she will likely regret, which never ends well…for anyone.

Finally, if you are a project manager that is easily overwhelmed or faces difficult projects, customers or team members on a daily basis, then it’s important to remember to stay calm, keep emotions out of a conflict, and practice active listening and effective communication. Not only will this reduce the intensity of a particular conflict or problem, it will also help project managers take control of the situation and manage it effectively.

4 Scary Questions Entrepreneurs Ask about Project Management

So maybe you have had this idea. You have a special talent, you have a passion for a particular service, or you have a creative product to market. Regardless of your forte, you have the potential to go into business. But, whoa, it’s a business. Don’t you need an MBA to own and operate your own business? Well, education is never lost, but, no, you don’t necessarily need a business degree to become an entrepreneur. But a background in project management? This also proves to be helpful.

What Does Project Management Have to Do with Running a Business?

But what does project management have to do with running your own business and functioning as entrepreneur? Well, almost everything. In fact, most entrepreneurs and business owners would be surprised to find out how much project management goes into managing and overseeing even the smallest of tasks on a daily basis.

What Does Project Management Involve Exactly?

Project management involves managing a number of areas and facets of business such as resources, budgets, schedules, communication, customers, projects, and tasks, just to name a few. All these areas are crucial to running a business. In fact, a business isn’t likely to survive without them. You probably already manage and/or oversee most of these areas right now without really realizing it!

What Resources Do I Need?

When running a business, project managers, entrepreneurs, and/or business owners might question what resources are needed to effectively operate. There are a number of tools, resources, and project management software options available that can assist project teams, project managers, and businesses to collaborate on tasks, manage projects, and work together. Staffing a project manager to “man” the software not only means that things get accomplished, but more time becomes available for you to focus on growing your business.

What If I’m Not a Project Manager, Can I Still Run My Business?

But what if you are already in well involved with the operation, growth, and development of your business, but you are finding out that you aren’t the best project manager? Or that maybe you aren’t the best strategist or analyst? Maybe your forte is focusing on vision or creative product development.

The good news is just because you are entrepreneur or business owner doesn’t mean you have to wear ALL the hats yourself, although most often do…You have the option to set up a PMO or even hire or outsource a project manager to handle the logistics, details, and managerial tasks of a project.

Finally, if you are running your own business or you are thinking about it, but don’t have an MBA or other business degree or certificate, don’t fret. It doesn’t automatically guarantee failure. In fact, even a background in project management can help you to run your business effectively. If none of these apply to you as an entrepreneur, the game still goes on. You can always set up a PMO, hire or outsource a project manager, and implement a project management tool to manage projects, daily tasks, and ensure smooth work flows across teams.