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How to Prepare for Next Week

Get organised for work

Sunday nights in this house are a buzz of activity. For me. Everyone else seems chilled out after the weekend. On a typical Sunday I spend the evening making sure my outfit is planned for the morning, packing my laptop bag, preparing snacks, and finding my train ticket. That’s just work related tasks.

Then there’s the other getting-ready-for-the-week stuff like meal planning for the week ahead, and checking whose birthday we have forgotten so I can apologise. I’m really not on top of all this stuff.

That’s a lot of chores to do, but they aren’t truly to do with getting my head straight for work. I’ve done all that on Friday afternoon. Good planning on a Friday for the week ahead makes Monday morning much less stressful. And as Mondays always seem to be really busy days, I can hit the ground running and get straight to my To Do list.

Here are my tips for facing Mondays ready for action. [click to continue…]

Win a copy of The Power of Project Leadership

It’s giveaway time already! That’s come round quickly. This month’s prize is Susanne Madsen’s awesome book, The Power of Project Leadership. You can read my review of it here if you’d like to be convinced why it should be on your bookshelf. Or just take my word for it and enter right now.

Use the contact form to get in touch with the phrase ‘I’m a powerful leader’ and I’ll put your name in the hat.

Normal giveaway rules apply and please don’t worry if you’re overseas. Each time I give something away someone gets in touch to say they live in a far flung country and is it OK if they enter? Of course it is. So far Royal Mail has always delivered…eventually.

This giveaway closes on Tuesday 14 April 2015. Good luck!


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…]

The Resilience Breakthrough [Book review]

The Resilience Breakthrough* opens with a very powerful story that nearly had me in tears on the train. Christian Moore writes movingly about his personal academic triumph despite his learning difficulties and being told he would never make much of his life.

After yet another knock he picks himself up of the floor (literally) and gets on with proving his doubters wrong. This ability to keep going despite the difficulties is what Moores attempts to define and explain in his book.

The Resilience Breakthrough Book Review

This ability, of course, is resilience, and it’s something that good project managers have even if they don’t realise it. Moores defines it like this:

“Resilience is the ability to bounce back when you have every reason to shut down – but you fight on. Resilient people have both tapped and untapped reserves, enabling them to overcome and thrive as they face the setbacks, challenges, and fears of daily life.”

Where does resilience come from?

Moores identifies four sources of resilience, the places you can draw on to feel more capable of coping:

  • Street: the skills you get from hustling and grafting as Moores did as a child.
  • Resource: the ability to be resilient because you have the resources available to help you overcome problems. Many project management setbacks can be resolved or alleviated with the right resources.
  • Relational: where you draw your resilience from the fact that other people are relying on you, be that family or your project team.
  • Rock bottom: where you hit rock bottom and have nowhere to go but up.

[click to continue…]