Project Management Book

Good Project Management Reads

Written by Michelle Symonds on . Posted in Project Management Articles

Some of the articles I have most enjoyed reading this month…

 

Don’t be afraid to move industry. Your skills have universal relevance

The tools and techniques of project management are universal. A good project manager should be able to add value in any environment. Most project managers, however, bring some specific subject matter expertise with them.

This subject matter expertise could be industry-specific technical knowledge, but it could also be project experience. If you have run a business transformation project in one industry, then organisations in another industry will value that experience.

If you wish to move industry, then ensure your CV focuses on your transferable skills: your project management skills. Remove industry-specific jargon or detailed technical information from your CV. If this information is not relevant, then it will be of no interest to the recruiter.

 

5 Ways to Earn Respect as a PM

Being a well-respected project manager does take time and as with any job you have to build up a reputation. That reputation, however, starts with today. Think about how you are performing today and how that contributes to your reputation overall. Do the tasks that help you earn respect and drop those bad practices that might be, at one end of the scale, unethical or at the other end, just not necessary.

Professionalism, honesty, trust and performance will all help you earn respect as a project manager. If you do all of those things well then you’ll be well thought of in your organisation.

 

Is Agile Your Solution or Your Problem?

Kevin Aguanno discusses how even agile project management practices can become so rigid that they become stifling rather than liberating. Sometimes strict adherence to an agile framework can cause problems for project teams. For instance, a company had attempted to adopt a Scrum-based agile process framework three years ago without proper training or coaching. As you could expect, the pilot project team was running into significant difficulties not understanding when to apply agile practices, how they should be used and for what benefits. After rotating through a few agile coaches, they found themselves more confused than ever. Some agile practices were being tried, abandoned and re-tried again. Others were being employed in a manner that runs contradictory to the spirit in which they were first conceived. Most concerning of all, the project manager did not understand that everything on an agile project should be flexible enough to respond to the changing project–even the agile methodology itself.

 

Why you will fail without clear project goals and objectives

It’s very clear. The success of a business is linked to the success of its projects. When a project fails, the business suffers. When several projects fail or when one seriously large project fails, the company could even go under. So what are the key ingredients to ensure each project succeeds? Well there are many ingredients which affect the outcome of any project but for now we’ll consider just two – the goals and the objectives of the project. Without these two factors being sound and appropriate, your project will fail.

 

The ultimate level of leadership

An interesting article by Michel Dion in which he discusses how it is important when managing a project for the project manager to be able to add value. It does not mean being the expert, but it does mean being able to have enough of an understanding to have a meaningful conversation, make appropriate strategic analysis and decisions. In a competitive environment, there is no room for a management level that doesn’t add value.

Leadership is the next level of professional development. Leadership is a complex concept with various potential definitions. Sometimes, the definition is focused on managing a team. Sometimes, it will be focused on influencing others without formal power or management authority. At the executive level, leadership always includes vision, strategic thinking, innovation and ideas, collaboration, coordination of activities, and a focus on taking actions to achieve a goal.

project management training provider

Why Are PM Qualifications Important?

Written by Michelle Symonds on . Posted in Project Management Articles

In project management just as in many other professional careers solid experience is essential for complex or lengthy projects. But just how qualifications are no substitute for experience so experienced project managers also need to consider which qualifications might improve their effectiveness as a PM and improve their career prospects.

 

For many project managers, especially those who have been in the profession for many years, this role may not have been a well-planned career choice. Many project managers end up in the role by default – you happened to have some relevant technical knowledge or business knowledge, were looking for a promotion and hey presto! You are a project manager.

 

That’s not to say you are not very good at what you do – the combination of the right project management skills backed up by intimate knowledge of your business or industry can be a powerful combination. Nevertheless, if as a project manager you didn’t plan your career this way you may never have taken any of the professional exams available; especially if you have been in one company for many years; it may simply not have been necessary.

 

But what happens when you want to move to a different company and expand your PM horizons? Will the lack of PM qualifications limit your choices? Of course, you could argue that experience is more important than paper qualifications but when applying for a new job you need to get through that important first selection stage in order to be able to truly demonstrate your experience and it is hard to do that just on a CV. Many organisations use the lack of qualifications as a filtering tool especially if they have many applications for one role.

 

But gaining a well-respected and internationally recognised professional qualification is more than just about not getting your CV tossed on the “no” pile.

 

Formal study of any subject shows commitment to a role and reinforces methods and processes, many of which can become lax over time. It provides the opportunity to learn from experienced trainers and tutors from different industries and with different perspectives, and also the opportunity to learn from other professionals and exchange ideas.

 

 

 

But which qualification?

 

Obviously not all qualifications are created equal and a basic PM qualification requiring no previous experience taken by someone with many years’ experience on complex projects is unlikely to add much to their employability. On the other hand, a more in-depth qualification with a rigorous exam at the end will show that you understand the subject, are committed to your career and can put PM methodologies into practise.

 

So choose your qualification carefully based on your existing experience and if you select one that is appropriate it can only make employing you a more attractive prospect for any potential employer. It can also make all the difference if you are moving into a different industry where your previous experience may be less relevant.

 

The choice of whether to embark on training for a professional qualification is a personal choice but all in all, there is no down-side to having an additional qualification.

 

If you are not sure which actual qualification is right for you take a look at our straightforward video guide “Which PM Qualification is right for me”

Five Steps to a Benefit Profile

Written by Paul Naybour on . Posted in Default

While the more confusing concepts in programme management is that the benefits profile. Many people struggle to get to grips with what they need to do in order to produce a benefit profile for project or programme. I think this is because guidance offered is is quite high level it doesn’t really give you a steps by step approach to the development of the benefits profile. So this blog post share some of the experiences we’ve had developing benefits profiles for some of our larger clients. We found that benefits profile is like a mirror image of the cost plan. Many of the tools and techniques that were used for cost planning such as work breakdown structure and project schedule can be used to help develop the benefits profile for the project. This is what we can do in a five-step plan to producing a benefits profile.

Step 1) Develop a benefits break down structure to prompt the identification of benefits.  This will breakdown the overall strategic objectives into a number of benefits areas such as efficiency, improved reliability or increased capacity. Use of a standard structure can help to capture the full range of benefits from a programme. So just like we have a work breakdown structure benefits breakdown structure lets us identify common areas of benefits. For example one area benefit might increase sales or improved efficiency. Once we develop the benefits breakdown structure we can identify common areas of benefit apply across the programmes and projects in the organisation. So in the same way that we can build up work breakdown structure from the building blocks of other projects we can build up the benefits from the building blocks of other projects and programmes.

Step 2) Define how each benefit it will be measured, ideally using existing business KPIs e.g. reliability metrics, etc. There is an old saying that what gets measured is what gets done. You can’t measure benefit and is very difficult to know that benefits been achieved or how accurately we are going to track achievements that benefit. So next step in our five stage plan is define the benefit owner and the KPI do can use to measure the impact of the benefit on the business. If is a benefit we really care about it should properly impact on existing performance measures used in the business. If benefits don’t have any impact on the business KPIs then we could really ask ourselves does the business really care about the benefits we delivering. Another reason for choosing business KPIs to measure benefits is a data will already be available for historic trends and so we can realistically evaluate the impact of the programme on the performance of the business.

Step 3) Estimate the value of each benefit over time. For each benefit estimate the impact of the programme will have on the measured KPIs. So we know what the KPI’s are the next step is to estimate with the benefit owner what the impact the programme will have on these KPI’s. It’s really important that these estimates are done by the benefit owner to establish ownership. This same principle we adopt a producing a bottom up estimate of cost, but try to ask people are going to do the work to estimate the cost of doing the work. In this case the people responsible for the benefit to estimate what the likely benefits going to be. Everyone is very comfortable with fact the cost estimates can have high degrees of uncertainty early in the project life-cycle and we should expect same the benefits. That research indicates that an average with three times worse and estimating benefits the me are estimating costs. Does this mean we should give up and not try to estimate the benefits. The answer to this question is NO. We don’t know what benefit you are aiming for is highly likely you’ll achieve no benefit at all. As we costs an estimate is something we can measure ourselves against so it is with benefits and estimate the benefit gives a summer we can target even if we know they were unlikely to achieve  the exact benefit we estimated. Because of the uncertainties involved we could say achieve significantly more benefit than we anticipated depending on market conditions.

Step 4) Develop a benefit register using the benefit profiles. Having quantified the benefits the next step in producing benefit profile is to predict when these benefits will be realised. While this is just a planning exercise in the same way they were schedule at the work we can schedule out the benefits. In fact we found that we can use the same scheduling tools that we use for planning the delivery the work to plan the realisation the benefits. Using a subproject is quite easy to link the benefits to the delivery of the products into one integrated cost benefit program. This way delays in the production of the products can be mapped easily to the delays in the realisation of the benefits.

Step 5) Link the benefit profile to the project schedule deliverables and outcomes to produce a benefits realisation plan. Sometimes we find the realisation of benefit is dependent upon more than one project. For the example the benefits have improved healthcare may be reduced time off work, but this depends upon not only the completion of a new hospital the training of more nurses and doctors to work within a hospital. To map out the dependencies between the different outcomes and the benefits we can link the different benefits in the same way that we link project schedule this we call benefit map.

So hope you can see the step-by-step approach to production of a benefit profile provides us with structured to tackle the problem of understand the benefits of projects and programmes.

Microsoft Project Training

Does your PMO provide a valuable service?

Written by Michelle Symonds on . Posted in Project Management Articles

An efficient, well-run project management office (PMO) should provide a valuable service to a project manager and the team, particularly on long or complex projects and large organisations, but whether they do or not is a different matter. Some PMOs are mired in bureaucracy and are often perceived as just adding to a project’s workload; yet if they are flexible with their processes and appreciate that one size does not fit all they genuinely can add value, relieve some of the workload from a busy project manager and ensure projects are more successful.

The question is how can they do so?

One of the key factors in successful PMOs is that they deliver the benefits that matter most: satisfied customers and cost-reduction – mainly by streamlining processes – but all PMOs need to make sure that such benefits are actually delivered and that they are properly communicated to project teams and other departments as having done so. Otherwise it is all too easy for a PMO to become a cost rather than reducing costs or, at least, to be viewed that way.

The PMO is one of the few departments in a large organisation that will have a clear overview of which projects are being run well and which are not; which projects are efficient and which are not, which are staying within budget or on-schedule. They should, therefore, be able to make project processes more efficient.
So there is a contradiction here:

Good PMOs add value and contribute to the success of projects.

Bad PMOs are (or are perceived to be) a process and cost burden, and organisations with an ineffective PMO have a lower success rate for their projects.

So the inference is clear: get a good PMO and your projects will be more successful – provided, of course, that you follow sound project management practises. That doesn’t sound too hard but the reality indicates something different.

And just how can an organisation be sure whether their PMO is “good” or “bad”, adds value or adds to costs?
Much of the responsibility lies with the PMO itself making sure they can show what value they add because, in some organisations at least, they have struggled with a poor reputation as rigidly process-focused, inflexible and bureaucratic.

Just as defining success criteria for projects helps them to be more successful so defining how and where a PMO adds value, and agreeing on those metrics with other departments, will ensure that it does indeed add value.

Possible PMO Metrics for Adding Value

By establishing agreed metrics the PMO will be able to demonstrate their real value whilst, at the same time, improving project delivery. Examples of some possible success metrics include:

1. Improve on the estimated versus actual delivery times of projects
2. Improve on the estimated versus actual costs of projects
3. Increase the percentage of successful projects
4. Review completed projects for customer satisfaction levels
5. Review completed projects to ensure expected benefits were delivered

Clearly to measure improvements you would need to establish a baseline, which could be current or historical data and you would also need a mechanism to collect reliable data on future projects.

Project Management Education

Project Managers – What You Need To Succeed

Written by Michelle Symonds on . Posted in Project Management Articles

It may not be ‘Dry January’ anymore and we’re definitely way past New Year’s Resolutions being fresh, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop striving for improvement. The best project managers are continually looking to improve and don’t need the New Year as a reason to push themselves forward. However, with the New Year does come a new PM landscape, which means that new opportunities, technology and industry advances could arise which, in turn, means more opportunity to learn.

 

Here are some tips on what you need to help you succeed in your project management career:

 

You Need To Embrace Numbers

If you’re not keen on budgeting, brace yourself because you must have at least a few basic budgeting skills to be a great project manager. Why? Because every single business has its eye on the bottom line, there’s no getting around it – budgets are as tight as they get. You need to be able to manage the budget just as effectively as managing tasks and schedules, and if you don’t know how to do that you need to get yourself up to speed.

 

You Need To Keep Calm And Carry On

If you are a negative complainer who turns every issue into a drama and never comes up with solutions, you will never be a successful project manager. The best project managers think critically all the time, which means they are constantly growing their skill set to deal with potential issues and obstacles. Your need to be able to keep calm and carry on when serious issues arise; critical thinking is intelligent, logical, sensible and essential.

 

You Need To Be Inspiring

If you can’t lead your team to victory, you’re in the wrong profession. You need to be an excellent leader to be a project manager. It is your job to make your team see the bigger picture and to inspire your team and help them feel a real sense of purpose towards the tasks they are completing. It is essential to develop leadership qualities or know how to recognise them and improve them.

 

You Need To Be Communicative

There is more emphasis than ever before on effective communication which means you need to consider all the technology available that can help you communicate better. Intranet, social media, emails, IM, video calls, texts – the list goes on. So not only are we more able than ever to communicate, we are expected to. The downside of using technological aids to communication is that we need to be able to translate our message into something meaningful without the usual visual or aural clues, which can be difficult for some people.

 

These are just some of the skills you need to be an excellent PM this year. However, if you always seek to improve and advance your skill set, you won’t go far wrong. Excellent project managers recognise both their skills and their weaknesses and seek to perfect and improve them respectively.

 

020915_1152_Studyingthe1.jpg

Studying the APMP Project Management Qualifications Outside the UK

Written by Paul Naybour on . Posted in Default

We get asked quite often about taking the APMP distance learning course exam from outside the UK. This is perfectly possible. Working with the APM we can arrange exams in many cities around the world. To date we have arranged exams in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Singapore, Beijing, Dohar, Dubai, Qatar, Jeda, Abu Dhabi. The exams are held at the offices of the British Council. We can arrange an APM exam at any location that has a British Council office at a date to suit your study plan. You can check which cities are covers by visiting the British Council website at http://www.britishcouncil.org/.

How to study for the APMP

There are three options if you want the study for the APMP from outside the UK. These include:

Option 1 Distance Learning

The first option is to study for the APMP qualification using Parallel Project Training’s APMP distance learning package. This package is based on the APMP study guide which was published by the Association of Project management in partnership with Parallel Project Training. This is the definitive text book for the APMP qualification and this study guide acts as a foundation for the whole programme which also includes online e-learning, podcasts and an online study group. If you are based overseas we will enable the virtual part of this course as soon as you purchase the package and we will ship study guide to you by direct carrier. This normally takes 2 to 3 days. Using the distance learning material it typically takes 60 to 70 hours of study to prepare for the APMP exam. The online study group is there to provide you with coaching on exam technique as you exam date approaches. As the day approaches when you with to take the exam you need to contact us to make the necessary arrangements with the APM and the British Council. These can take 4 to 5 weeks so you need to plan your exam date ahead. More about this later.

Option 2 Distance Learning plus Virtual Coaching

In addition to the distance learning package we can also provide virtual coaching using Adobe connect. This is a highly interactive environment in which we can take you through the course material and practice exam questions using a virtual classroom. Adobe Connect enables us to share presentations documents exam questions and exam answers in real-time. This can be offered as a final exam prep or a structured programme of short sessions spread over several weeks. The online exam prep is perfect for individuals who are preparing for the APMP exam, a structured programme is more suitable if you have a group of people who wish to study for the APMP exam. Typical structured programme will consist of six weekly sessions. The first five cover the contents of the course whilst six is preserved for exam prep. We found the pass rates for this type of program are generally as good if not better than a traditional classroom-based course. We believe this is partly because you have more time to absorb and consolidate the material before taking the exam.

Option 3 Face to Face Training

Final option which suits corporate organisations with groups of 5-6 to train is to range trainer to visit from the UK and deliver the course face-to-face over five day period. The trainer will bring the exam papers with them and also acts as invigilator for the exam on the last day of the course. This is the most expensive option but it does provide the benefit of full-time face-to-face input from experienced trainer.

How to book the exam

The exam procedure is quite simple

1)    You contact us and tell us when you want to take the exam, 5-6 weeks in advance.

2)    We pass this information on the APM who make the arrangement with the British Council.

3)    The APM ship the papers to the British Council.

4)    You go to the British Council office on the day you selected take the exam, pay the local fee. The local fees in the local currency  including courier shipping are published on the British Council website. Look for the the take exam / Professional and university exams part of the British Council website for the country you want to take the exam.

5)    The British Council ship the papers back to the APM for marking.

6)    The results take 10-12 weeks and you are informed of the result by the APM by e-mail.

So you can see, it is perfectly practical to complete the APMP training and qualification outside the UK. Parallel Project Training have significant experience providing distance learning and virtual learning to support the APMP qualification outside the UK. So if you need further information please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

[button font_size=”20″ color=”#38197a” text_color=”#ffffff” url=”http://www.parallelprojecttraining.com/contact-us” target=”_self”]Contact us[/button]

Project Progress Graph

Projects Fail Because of Poor Estimates in the Planning Phase

Written by Michelle Symonds on . Posted in Project Management Articles

If you are looking for some light bedtime reading then I’d recommend the latest 2015 PwC report on Insights and Trends: Current Portfolio, Programme, and Project Management Practices.

 

One of the report’s most significant, and yet not surprising, findings is that poor estimation during the planning phase continues to be the largest contributor to project failures.

 

The PwC study looks at the most common reasons why projects do not achieve the desired results. It is based on survey results from organisations across 38 countries with approximately two-thirds of those organisations in the private sector and a third in the public sector. Those organisations represented a wide range of industries including IT, Consulting, Banking, Energy, Telecommunications, Health Care, Manufacturing and Construction.

 

The 10 factors that contribute most to under-performing projects

 

  1. Poor estimates/missed deadlines
  2. Lack of executive sponsorship
  3. Poorly defined goals/objectives
  4. Changes in scope mid-project
  5. Insufficient resources
  6. Poor communication
  7. Lack of stakeholder involvement
  8. Change in environment
  9. Change in strategy
  10. Inadequate risk planning

 

Inadequate estimates are the single largest cause of projects that don’t deliver on their promises and it is a worsening trend, and has been for over a decade. These top 3 factors alone contributed to 53% of poor project performance. The top six factors contributed to 78% of poor project performance.

 

Anyone who has worked in a project management environment for any length of time will probably not be surprised by those findings, but what is surprising is that organisations continue to make the same mistakes. However, there is some good news: the survey also found that organisations at a high level of “project maturity” i.e with well-defined project management processes consistently deliver better project results than those without well-defined PM processes.

 

Improvements in any of the 10 major contributing factors in project failure will, of course, have a positive effect on the project outcome but hopefully the trend for poor estimating will soon reverse as the report also notes that it is now common to use an established project management methodology and to ensure staff have training and certification in the preferred approach. Using a proven Project Management approach is seen to improve the

success of projects across the key performance indicators:

  1. Quality
  2. Scope
  3. Budget
  4. Time

 

Project managers with experience managing projects of similar size and complexity, and within the same industry, are a major component in meeting these 5 key performance indicators. There is a direct correlation between trained, skilled project managers and successful project outcomes, according to the PwC report, suggesting that an organisation could avoid project failures by training staff and/or employing staff with the right experience and accreditation.

There could of course be other reasons related to the relationships and dynamic between project managers and senior executives, which I explore in a little more detail over on a Community Discussion Why Projects Fail

 

What About Agile Project Management?

 

The use of Agile project management methods continues to grow, sometimes combined with more traditional, well-established methods. It is still predominantly used in the IT industry (over 70% of those taking part in the study who use Agile do so in an IT environment), where the benefits of short cycles to deliver working products is often a better solution to clarify requirements and continually develop improvements. Nearly two-thirds of those using Agile say their projects are successful because of the Agile method, although organisations using Agile have not typically reached the same level of project management maturity as those using more traditional methods.

 

Free coaching or training

Written by Paul Naybour on . Posted in News

As part of the Growth Accelerator service, Participating companies are automatically entitled to a Government Matched-funding grant worth £2,000 per manager towards training related to Leadership or Management.

This “Leadership & Management” grant is available to businesses with an annual turnover of up to £40m p.a. with up to 250 Full-Time employees.

For information on this service, please refer to the “ Leadership Management” document.

The department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) are also currently asking The Association for Project Management to run a pilot scheme to test how well small businesses respond to coaching vs. training. As a result businesses turning over between £250,000 p.a. and £2,000,000 p.a. can access the aforementioned grants at no cost. The ‘catch’ in this pilot is that, if the company is selected (at random) to receive coaching as well, they must pay £700 VAT (which is reclaimable in the usual manner) and must have that coaching. This pilot scheme has a limit of just 600 places, which are filling up quickly. Businesses in this size bracket looking for training in the new year can sign up to this scheme now, with a view to securing the funding for training in the new year.

For information on this pilot, please refer to the “ Growth Impact Pilot” document.

For information on the service as a whole, please refer to the “ About GrowthAccelerator” document.

Sam Landsberg is the contact at the Growth Accelerator; please contact him directly for more information or to refer potential clients for the grant.

He can be contacted directly via sam.jl.landsberg@uk.gt.com or via his direct dial, 0207 728 3223.

Roundup of recent PM Articles and Videos

Written by Michelle Symonds on . Posted in Default, News

Stop That Project!

There are some projects that once they begin continue on like a snowball rolling down a hill. The project builds momentum, increasing in terms of the time, effort and money that are continuously absorbed by it. The greater the spend; the harder it is for the project to stop or change direction.

This may be fine if the project is of value and if the work is being done effectively so as to achieve the desired value. But if the project is not adding value, or it is headed in a wrong direction, or it does not comply with regulations and best practices then the project should be stopped.

The question is who can, or should, stop the project?

Read more in this article by George Pitagorsky

5 Tips for Managing Project Communications in a Crisis

A new video from Elizabeth Harrin of A Girl’s Guide to Project Management

There are always things that go wrong on projects – sometimes those issues are small; sometimes they are significant. In this video Elizabeth offers 5 tips to help you deal with project communications during a crisis.

 

Top 5 open source project management tools for 2015

Robin Muilwijk has recently printed his Top 5 open source project management tools for 2015 based on the following criteria:

  • Is the software provided under an open source license?
  • Does it have an active community?
  • Does it have up-to-date documentation available?
  • Is the source code available?
  • Are there new or recent releases?

The tools he reviews are:

  1. Tuleap Open ALM
  2. OrangeScrum
  3. Taiga
  4. Odoo
  5. MyCollab

He also gives updates on several of the tools he reviewed last year.

See the full article here.

 

How to Prevent Scope Creep: A Business Analyst Perspective

Written by Kiranmayi Satnarayan

Many years ago a few of my colleagues started working on a project, which was not so complex. It went well for the first few months. The problem started when the team travelled to the client location to give a demo on a module and seek the client’s feedback. The client suggested certain changes that were accepted by the team. The team built the module with the new suggestions incorporated, however, the client suggested a few more changes. After a couple of similar back and forth interactions, the project was ultimately shelved as it was no longer delivering a good ROI.

 

Project Management Career Q&A – Stress!

Work and life are two of the things that many practitioners working in the field of project management struggle to get into a happy balance. With increased pressures to deliver, expectations of doing more with less, project managers are no strangers to feeling overworked and at the point of burn out.

Lyndsay Scott of Arras People suggests four initial areas in your approach to work to start thinking about changing.

Read more here

 

 

IT project management

Project Burnout – How to Spot it and How to Stop it

Written by Michelle Symonds on . Posted in Project Management Articles

IT project managementEven if you are using a controlled approach to managing your projects and consider yourself to be a highly effective project manager with good experience and a proven track-record of successful projects, it is always possible that external factors beyond your control could contribute to a project that will cause burnout for you or your team members.

 

What is Burnout?

 

Burnout occurs in a project where the pressure, stresses and other factors have reached such a level that the project team can no longer work effectively. They cannot complete the tasks they have been assigned to the required standard or in the expected time-frame. They cannot solve problems easily because the pressure they are under is so great they do not have the luxury of thinking time. They are exhausted, de-motivated, pessimistic and no longer think they can achieve their project goals.

 

And the problem with burnout is that it can creep up on you; it is often an accumulation of factors, sometimes unrelated to the current project, that on their own may not be too much cause for concern.

 

For instance, if the previous project was high profile and required maximum effort the team may have embarked on a new project with no time to recharge their batteries, and this type of high-intensity working environment, far from delivering more projects in as short a space of time as possible destroys creativity, energy and enthusiasm.

 

It can be hard to convince senior executives that quiet periods are not wasted time. They can be time to re-think strategies and review approaches to projects, maybe embark on some training. If there is no time to review the last project and learn from it then future projects will simply continue in the same way, making the same mistakes, putting teams under the same pressures until they reach breaking point.

 

 

 

Spotting Burnout

 

As a project manager you should take responsibility for detecting the signs of burnout. You may not be able to change the current project but you might (should) be able to influence future projects to ensure better future outcomes for your organisation and your people. The loss of creativity and enthusiasm that comes with fatigue will not, ultimately, benefit your organisation.

 

There are lots of little signs that individual team members may be starting to reach breaking point:

 

  • Excessive sick days
  • Silly mistakes
  • Increasingly argumentative behaviour
  • Lost sense of humour
  • Cancelling planned days off
  • Poor team relations
  • Excessive over-time
  • Working only minimal hours

 

If you start to see some or all of these signs then take the time to talk honestly and openly to the team, both individually and as a group, to get to the bottom of the real issues.

 

Stopping Burnout

 

A project manager is in a position of influence (or should be) so use that power to the advantage of your projects, team and business. Don’t sit back and let a situation escalate; speak out but make sure you know how to influence those with the power to makes changes to actually make those changes. Constantly moaning about the pressures of work just becomes background noise that nobody will take any notice of.

 

 

Instead make a plan for how you can improve the situation; explain the downsides of not changing attitudes to how projects are run and perceived by senior management. This takes courage, persuasive skills, leadership and vision but these are all characteristics of a project manager’s personality that you should have or, at the very least be cultivating.

 

On a more practical and pragmatic note, make sure your factor in some slack time in all your project schedules.

 

Let us know if you have any other ideas for preventing burnout in project teams or influencing strategies that have worked for you.