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Directors, Listen Up: Let Project Managers Plan

I don’t care who you had lunch with, or what their golf handicap is: I want to be able to plan my project with the help of my team and then tell you when we can deliver. If directors need things done quickly, we can work with the team and the stakeholders to look at ways to crash the schedule, reduce the scope or phase the work, ensuring tasks are completed with early deliverables. We’d hope that we were considered to be trusted member of the management team and when we say it will take six weeks, that’s because it will.

Project managers have creative ways to deal with the pressures of tight delivery timescales and, if it’s a real emergency, magic can be worked to pull something out of the bag. Although it costs, both in terms of relationships with colleagues and stress for us and the team, so it shouldn’t be the default way of working.

That’s the conversation I had with the KeyedIn Projects blog team recently, and they turned my thoughts into a neat cartoon.

Project management cartoon

Read the whole article on the KeyedIn Projects blog.

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Playing the Project Manager [Book review]

Playing the Project Manager by Charles Smith

It’s not often that I review books that I don’t like. But let’s get it out there early: I didn’t like this one.

Playing the Project Manager* by Charles Smith wasn’t my cup of tea. It started out well enough because I thought it would be about how you manage yourself on a project and how you shape a career out of managing projects. That sounded interesting.

To an extent it is about that, but abstracted to a point where I couldn’t see how to use the information.

What I would have liked about it if I’d liked it

Charles argues that project managers perform a role in a business and through this form their professional identify and reputation. He says:

“Their credibility is built not on their knowledge of mechanised practices and administrative procedures, but on how they handle the complexities and challenges of the real project world.”

I agree that project managers are performers. When I go into a meeting I’m being an authentic version of myself but project management is the cloak I put on to get the job done. And I agree that the best project managers I work with know the tools but don’t much care about them. The important business of getting projects done happens around the edges of the project schedule, or risk log or any other of the essential documents for managing projects.

Generally I also like books with case studies and stories, and there are plenty of those, along with a discussion of what we can take from those experiences. [click to continue…]

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5 Ways that PMs and BAs can collaborate

This is a guest post by Laura Brandenburg.

We all want more successful projects – projects that deliver their intended business value and are delivered on time and on budget. As a project manager, you work with a variety of different team members that offer up different skill sets and contribute to your project’s success. One of those team members is often a business analyst.

But what exactly is the business analyst supposed to do? How can you leverage their skills and competencies to create more successful projects?

Business analysis helps ensure your project delivers the intended business value and that business needs, requirements, and processes are well-understood, leading to a more streamlined implementation process.

A skillful business analyst can ease a lot of project turmoil and be one of your best partners. And there is a lot you can do as a project manager to help create the environment in which they can do their best work.

In this article, we’ll look at five specific ways you can collaborate with business analysts to help create more successful projects.

#1: Collaborate on project scope to minimize scope creep

In order to thoroughly analyze the detailed requirements and help manage scope creep, the business analyst needs to understand the business problem being solved and the over-arching “why” behind the project. Typically this information is documented in the business case or project scope document.

A business analyst will naturally have a lot of questions about the project scope. Questions can be frustrating, especially when they come in after the project scope is considered approved, but answering them now will enable the business analyst to help you manage scope creep, prioritize detailed requirements, and generally keep the requirements effort on track.

An easier approach is to get the business analyst involved in creating these documents in the first place, as then their questions can be addressed at a more appropriate time. A business analyst can help the business sponsor discover the underlying business problem, consider alternate solutions, and decide on the best approach before making a commitment to a specific project scope. This practice leads to a scope document that’s a steadfast compass for the entire project team and can shortcut scope creep before it even starts.

But understanding scope requires that the right stakeholders are involved on the project. Let’s look next at how project managers and business analysts can collaborate when working with stakeholders. [click to continue…]

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10 Things I love about managing projects

10 things i love about pm infographic

Click the graphic to see it full size.

10 Things I love about managing projects

  1. The variety. Today, IT, tomorrow talking to Marketing. Every day is different!
  2. Leading a team. Teamwork makes the day more interesting.
  3. The tech. Getting to try new apps.
  4. Problem solving. It’s satisfying to put things right.
  5. Introducing new things. Delivering change is fun!
  6. Communicating. There’s lots of talking and writing to do.
  7. Delivering value. I can see how my contribution makes a difference.
  8. Transferable skills. Future-proofing my career and making myself more marketable.
  9. The other people. Access to different teams to see the whole business.
  10. Flexibility. Working from home or office.

What is the best thing about managing projects for you? Let us know in the comments.

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Directors, Listen Up: Let Project Managers Plan

I don’t care who you had lunch with, or what their golf handicap is: I want to be able to plan my project with the help of my team and then tell you when we can deliver. This cartoon explains the frustrations of fixed date projects.

20 Resources to make your projects easier

Every project manager has resources and tools that they use to simplify their projects. Here are 20 resources that I use to make it easier to manage my projects.

Giveaway winner: Emotional Intelligence

The winner of this month's giveaway is Catherine from London. Catherine wins a copy of Anthony Mersino's fantastic book, Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers. If you missed out this time, look out for April's giveaway and remember you can always get a copy of Anthony's book on Amazon.

Playing the Project Manager [Book review]

Read about the 6 archetypes of project manager that Charles Smith covers in his book, Playing the Project Manager, and find out why I didn't like the book.

What I’m reading: March 2015

Find out what made it on to my personal reading list this month. It's my round up of the best project management books for March 2015.

Social Media on Projects: 5 Common Mistakes

There continues to be debate around how best to implement social media and collaboration tools on projects. Learn about the common mistakes made when implementing collaboration and social media tools on projects. Set your tools up to help you manage projects.