Categories
Project Management

How Leaders Can Develop Great Remote Management Skills

Remote work is growing in popularity, but succeeding as a remote
manager isn’t the same thing as being able to manage remote
workers effectively.

Unfortunately, managers who lead partially- or fully-remote
teams — but who don’t have remote work experience of their own
— may not understand what employees need to be successful in
these environments.

Whether you’re a new remote team manager or an established
leader looking to improve your remote management skills, keep the
following nine tips in mind:

Tip #1: Practice working remote

Here’s a quick and easy way to become a better remote manager:
if you don’t have remote work experience yourself, create it by
working remotely voluntarily for a few weeks.

With permission from your higher-ups, relocate temporarily to
your home office, a local coworking space, or even your
neighborhood coffee shop. Doing so will make the challenges
associated with remote work immediately apparent, improving both
your empathy for the remote experience and your ability to create
conditions that allow distributed team members to thrive.

Tip #2: Set expectations and routines around communication

One of the challenges employees associate with remote work is a
feeling of disconnection from the team — especially if it’s
only partially distributed, and some members of the group are able
to work together in an office setting.

Improving this negative sentiment requires a multi-pronged
approach, yet one simple way to create a sense of belonging is
through established communication routines.

Set times for weekly stand-ups, one-on-one meetings, and even
team brainstorming sessions. When remote workers know how and when
they’ll be able to connect with others, get information, and
receive support, they’re likely to feel less isolated from the
rest of their team.

Tip #3: Be meticulous about note-taking and documentation

Despite their best intentions, remote managers can sometimes
fall victim to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. This
can be particularly challenging when impromptu brainstorming
sessions fail to bring in all relevant remote team members —
potentially leaving them out-of-the-loop on major updates or
decisions.

It may not always be feasible to loop in remote team members at
a moment’s notice, especially if you’re working across
different time zones. But you can make a concerted effort to
document any discussions that took place in order to share new
findings or insights with all relevant parties.

Tip #4: Invest in the right tools to deliver these expectations and
routines

Blissfully’s 2019 Annual
SaaS Trends Report
found that the average employee uses eight
apps and that this number increases as company size grows.

Your remote team isn’t the place to skimp on your tech stack.
Plenty of solutions exist today that make it possible for you to
deliver on the communication and documentation standards you set
for your team and yourself.

At a minimum, you’ll want to have:

  • A chat tool for quick check-ins and status updates
  • A project management system like LiquidPlanner for team
    and project visibility
  • An intranet or cloud storage drive for sharing files
  • A design annotation tool for sharing creative feedback
  • A video conferencing solution like Vast
    Conference
    for remote meetings

Tip #5: Look for and eliminate barriers preventing collaboration

Just because you’ve built your remote team tech stack
doesn’t mean you can sit back and assume your job is done. As a
remote manager, it’s up to you to continually monitor your
team’s usage of the systems you’ve chosen to identify barriers
to collaboration that may still exist.

Check-in with your team members regularly to make sure they’re
happy with the solutions you’re using. If frustrations exist with
individual tools, they won’t be used — and there are simply too
many tools out there to stick with one that isn’t working for
your team’s specific needs.

Tip #6: Use video conferencing as a relationship-building tool

As mentioned above, video conferencing can be useful for running
remote meetings, but don’t overlook its importance as a
culture-building tool.

As an example, the team at Zapier hosts weekly “pair buddy
chats,” where 2-3 people within the company are randomly matched
for quick hangouts. According to Wade Foster, writing for
Zapier’s blog
, “Pair buddy chats help keep some semblance
of the office social life as part of work and encourage people who
work in different departments to get to know each other
better.”

Though Foster’s team conducts these sessions via chat tool,
arranging for them to be held via video conferencing can help forge
important social bonds that reduce social isolation and improve
overall morale.

Tip #7: Learn to recognize more subtle signs of conflict

In remote work environments — where you don’t typically have
regular exposure to team members’ body language, tone of voice,
and other nonverbal communication signals — it can be easy to
miss the early signs of growing conflict. And even if you do catch
them, dealing with them appropriately requires a willingness to
address them head-on, rather than sweep them under the rug.

One of the easiest ways to increase your awareness into remote
team members’ frustrations is to develop an understanding of
their baseline communication habits. Dry humor from a team member
may not be cause for concern if that’s their standard operating
procedure. But increased negativity coming from a generally
positive worker, on the other hand, could be cause for concern.

If you see these types of changes or other signs of potential
conflict, address them proactively. If the employee was in the
office next to you, you may be able to keep a watchful eye instead
to see if the situation improves. But without this day-to-day
exposure, you need to be more direct about raising any concerns
that arise so that they can be successfully managed.

Tip #8: Develop trust by following through on commitments and
holding team members accountable to theirs

Establishing a successful remote work environment requires a
tremendous amount of trust. As a manager, you’ve got to trust
workers to handle their responsibilities on their own, without your
direct oversight. And as workers, your team members have to trust
that you’re looking out for them and defending their performance
to others in order to feel secure in their positions.

This type of broad, sweeping trust doesn’t happen
automatically. Instead, it’s built over time as you follow
through on the commitments you’ve made to remote team members. If
you’ve scheduled meetings for specific times, follow through. If
you’ve promised to come back to someone with an update, don’t
make them chase you down for more information.

When team members know that they can take you at your word —
and that you’ll hold them to the same expectations — they’ll
be much more likely to trust you on bigger picture issues.

Tip #9: Stay out of the way

One of the best things you can do as a remote manager? Simply
stay out of the way. Don’t be an unnecessary roadblock that keeps
others from doing their jobs.

Presumably, you’ve hired people who are well-suited to remote
work and who are competent at their jobs. If both of these
conditions are true, there’s no reason to micromanage team
members. Trust that they’ll do their jobs, and then let them get
to work. You can always address issues that arise, but if you try
to directly manage every aspect of the performance of workers you
may never meet in person, you’ll actually limit their performance
and demolish morale unnecessarily.

Being a great remote manager may not come naturally, but it is
something you can achieve through regular practice and thoughtful
leadership. Put the nine tips above into practice, and watch your
remote team’s performance soar.

What other tips would you add to this list? Leave a note
sharing your suggestions in the comments below:

The post
How Leaders Can Develop Great Remote Management Skills
appeared
first on LiquidPlanner.

Categories
Project Management

Rebuilding Your Confidence After Project Failure

I’ve just left a six-month contract for a project
which ended up in a failure for all sorts of reasons. It has really
knocked my confidence. How can I start to get over this and get
back out there?

First thing, take a step back, and don’t think about jumping
straight back into another role. You need to give yourself
permission to take some time for reflection. What do we mean by
reflection? I guess it could also be called your own ‘lessons
learnt’ as we often refer to it in project management speak.

It’s easy to fall down the rabbit-hole into negative self-talk
and overthinking what went wrong, what could you have done better
and so on. We often forget that projects have a habit of doing this
– going wrong! And we also know they go wrong for lots of
reasons, not just our own actions to blame.

It’s the combination of different factors and we can start by
understanding the bigger picture of what happened over that six
months and start to rationalise it. I think you’ll soon start to
see that some of it was way out of your control and other parts,
yes, sure you could have chosen a different way to tackle
something.

Once you’ve started to take that step back, removed the
emotion out of it, you can start to get that project manager hat
back on again and think about what you’ve learnt from the six
months in a practical sense. It’s about taking something positive
away from
every assignment you
have regardless of how the project played out.

In my experience there are three great ways to leave a bad
assignment behind and move on. The first is all about addressing
your confidence levels. Take some time out and spend some of that
on your own professional development. Yes, take a course you’ve
been meaning to for a while. New knowledge has a habit of making us
feel reenergised and reinvigorated – ready to take something new
on again.

Doing this also leads to the second way to get over something
like this – be more discerning with the next assignment you take
on. If there is one lesson we can learn is to make sure you don’t
take another assignment with all the same hallmarks. That means
you’re going to be selective with the interviews you attend and
when you do, you’re going to think about the questions that need
to be asked during that interview to undercover what the assignment
is really all about.

The third way – and one which all project managers should be
mindful of and that’s just to talk it out with someone you trust.
Many project managers also find solace in finding a coach or mentor
for a while to help them overcome what they might perceive as their
own failings. We all know that project management is a high-stress
profession, and we need to remember we’re all human at the end of
the day and we must be kinder to ourselves.


The post
Rebuilding Your Confidence After Project Failure
appeared first
on arraspeople.

Categories
Project Management

20 Years, 20 Timeless PM Lessons

ProjectManagement.com is 20 years old! To celebrate this milestone,
we look back at 20 lessons our subject matter experts have shared
over the last two decades-one for each year!

Categories
Project Management

An Unexpected Journey: 20 Years and Counting

As ProjectManagement.com celebrates its 20th anniversary, author
Michael Wood–who has contributed since our very first year–looks
back at his introduction to the site, and how its evolved.

Categories
Project Management

Project Management in 2000: Lessons From a Seasoned PM’s Journal Entries

As ProjectManagement.com celebrates its 20th anniversary, Joe
Wynne-a contributor since our very first year-shares a sampling of
his PM journal entries from two decades ago!

Categories
Project Management

What I Wish I Knew 20 Years Ago

As ProjectManagement.com celebrates its 20th anniversary, Mark
Mullaly-who has been a contributor since our very first year-shares
insights that he would most want his younger self to know,
appreciate and learn from.

Categories
Project Management

Nurturing Creativity: A Leader’s Role

It doesn't matter how creative a project manager is if they operate
in an environment that stifles that creativity. That's where
leaders have a critical role to play.

Categories
Project Management

Promote Creativity for Better Team Problem-Solving

Stay out of the way but be supportive to help teams create better
solutions to problems that arise during projects. It will speed
things up, help you manage risk and reduce impact to your schedule.

Categories
Project Management

Why Productivity in Project Businesses is Flatlining?

The following article is the part two in a series of four on
‘Project Business’ and is authored by Daniel Bévort – part
one certainly seemed to draw some interest and some comment so
please, like, share and comment on this one as well.

photo-1566766804405-eed274ee46bf

Project Business is a significant portion of all companies.
Approximately 20 to 25 percent of all businesses are Project
Businesses, companies that provide products and/or services for
their customers through projects. Unfortunately, failure to
identify as a Project Business and the lack of Project Business
thinking can lead to many problems that impact business
performance, productivity and ultimately, profitability.

Once you look at the fundamentals and recognize your business as
a Project Business, you can start to see:

· Why your business isn’t running as well as it
could

· Where the problems are

· What you need to do to solve them

By structuring your Project Business processes you will be able
to analyze what systems need to change and what solutions are
possible.

Let’s take a step back and discuss why Project Businesses are
not optimized for success. Why do they suffer from low
productivity?

Compared to other industries, where productivity has steadily
increased, productivity in Project Businesses has remained stagnant
and even declined.

If we look at this McKinsey
& Company study
, one of the main reasons stems from poor
project management and the lack of technological innovation and
adoption. The inability to utilize technology to improve processes
and information flow is a major reason why Project Business lags in
productivity. More specifically, why they are often faced with
budget overruns and project delays.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the specifics:

Poor organization: Project Businesses tend to
have separate systems and sets of data for different stages or
parts of their projects. This disjointed structure not only causes
delays, but also hinders insight. In addition, most Project
Businesses lack standardization and integration. Processes aren’t
uniform, and they often rely on individuals who take extreme
liberties with them. As a result, it’s difficult to control the
business functions and create standard metrics to measure
performance.

Inadequate communication: When managing
projects, establishing the right communication strategies ensures
that all stakeholders are on the same page. Scheduling,
timekeeping, resource management, accounting, budgeting, can all be
managed in separate systems. It’s important to create the right
sequence of processes and proper networks across the organization
so everyone who needs to be informed has access to the data at any
point during a project’s life cycle. Inconsistences in reporting
mean that stakeholders don’t have a common understanding of how
the project is doing in real time.

Flawed performance management: Oftentimes,
Project Businesses run their business units and projects as
independent entities, without consistency across the portfolio and
company. This leads to the “silo effect.” Project Businesses
that don’t standardize their operations and project reporting
across the company aren’t able to manage their risks as well as
they could. In addition, they cannot apply the best practices
discovered from one project to the next. Let’s face it, if you
can’t measure performance, you can’t improve it. The key to
operational excellence is scalable and predictable business
processes.

Missed connections: There are different levels
of planning, from high-end preparation to day-by-day programs.
Schedulers need to know if the daily work isn’t done so they can
update the priorities in real time. However, they often don’t
have this information. Today’s real-time economy demands
visibility into what’s going on inside your company. Failure to
integrate all project functions into one system leads to
organizational inefficiencies, delays, budget overruns and poor
performance.

Insufficient risk management: Although Project
Businesses pay considerable attention to long-term risks that they
identify at the beginning of a project, they tend not to give the
same attention to the kinds of risks that might crop up during the
project in real time. In order to manage milestones and deadlines
to ensure the successful delivery of projects, it’s important to
be aware early on when project plans slide. A lack of real-time
insight into your operations will result in increased risk and
ultimately, decreased profitability.

The Way Forward

When you recognize that the bulk of what you do is projects and
you are a Project Business, you develop a new way of thinking and
the ability to recognize new solutions. Project Businesses need to
operate with similar transparency and control as traditional
industries. As projects get bigger in size and complexity, it’s
critical to implement a Project Business structure that improves
the chances of success of those projects.

The next blog will cover three key steps Project Businesses need
to implement in order to improve productivity, better manage
projects and lessen the chances of budget overruns.

Peter: This is also something my friend Oliver F. Lehmann would
acknowledge and support through his Project Business
Foundation https://www.linkedin.com/company/project-business-foundation/ as
do I , having worked in the world of ‘Project Business’ for
most of my working life.

Daniel Bévort: Founder & CEO

Prior to founding ADEACA, Daniel was a principal architect of
Axapta at Damgaard Data, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2002
for $1.6B and became Microsoft’s ERP offering, now called
Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations. Daniel recognized that
every traditional industry has systems to integrate and control all
their business processes, but that is not the case for
project-based industries. ADEACA was founded to accomplish that
same vision for these neglected industries and find a way to run
project business with real-time information and much better
control.

Categories
Project Management

Requirements Gathering: A Quick Guide

Imagine that you’re taking the lead on a new IT project that
involves building a call center from the network to the servers.
The call center itself will house hundreds of jobs, and will bridge
the divide between customer and product.

You already have the facility, you just need a few resources to
make it happen. This might look like desks, computers, a network
architecture, a server stack and closet, plus endpoints like
computers/workstations. But what team members will you need? How
long will it take? What will the budget look like?

Addressing these needs and answering these questions is what
requirements gathering is all about. So, let’s talk about
requirements gathering—what is it, how does it work and why is it
so important to project success?

What is Requirements Gathering?

Primarily done during stakeholder meetings, requirements
gathering is the exploratory process of researching and documenting
project requirements. Shockingly, more than
70 percent of failed projects
miss the mark due to a lack of
requirements gathering. That no small number.

Truly effective requirements gathering and management is started
at the very beginning of the project, and must answer the following
questions:

  • How long will the
    project timeline
    be?
  • Who will be involved in the project?
  • What are the risks for the requirements gathering process?
  • What is our ultimate goal in understanding our project
    requirements?

It sounds fairly simple, but it’s incredibly important.

Why is Requirements Gathering so Important?

Remember back to the last project you managed. What were the
risks that came to light? Which resources did you run out of? Was
there any scope creep or budgetary mishaps? And overall, what were
the impacts of those shortcomings on the project as a whole?

Deadlines, scope,
cost overrun
—without proper requirements identification at
the outset, all of those elements will be affected. Design issues
to the product will be impacted, and developmental delays will
occur. Ultimately, your product won’t be set up for optimal
success as it faces an overrun budget.

Effective Requirements Gathering & Management

So, how do you gather requirements in the most effective and
manageable way possible? Typically, requirements gathering is made
up a few discrete steps.

Appoint and Assign

First things first: who’s going to be the person that tells
everyone you’re the project manager? Ensure that that person
understands why this role is so important—everyone must go to you
with all project updates, as you will act as the knowledge center
for project progress.

You’ll also want to identify who the key stakeholders will be.
These will be the people who brainstorm, analyze, approve or deny
project updates. They’re typically made up of customers, team
leads, department managers, board members, business partners or
manufacturers. They’ll have the most say in the progress of the
project overall.

Elicit Requirements & Interview

Next, you’ll want to interview all of the stakeholders that
you identified. Ask them questions like:

  • What is on your wishlist for this product update?
  • What is your ultimate goal for this project?
  • What do you wish this product would do that it doesn’t
    already?
  • What got you interested in this product in the first
    place?
  • What changes would convince you to recommend this product to
    others?
  • What tools would you need to make this project successful?
  • What are the concerns you have for this project process?

Gather and Document

Write absolutely everything down. Write until you can’t write
anymore. Record every single answer, and create an
easily-accessible repository where (approved) others can access if
they need to reference any information that was collected during
the requirements gathering phase.

Not only will this documentation be helpful at the end of the
project when you reflect back on goals achieved, updates
accomplished, features added and bugs fixed, it will also act to
help manage stakeholder expectations, and keep team members focused
and on track.

ProjectManager.com
offers unlimited file storage, along with award-winning project and
task management tools, making it a complete project management
software solution. Gather requirements, and store them online. Then
quickly make project plans and assign tasks. Track work until
completion. It can all be done with ProjectManager.com.

task management screenshot in ProjectManager.comProjectManager.com
let’s you plan projects and manage work online with your
team.List All Assumptions & Requirements

This is the meat of the process. Once you’ve documented
everyone’s goals and expectations, you can create a requirements
management plan
that’s actionable, measurable and
quantifiable.

During this phase you’ll answer:

  • How long will the project timeline be? Map out
    your timeline, and then map out your requirements on that timeline.
    This will help in case some requirements are contingent on
    dependencies.
  • Who will be involved in the project? Will it
    be the entire design and development teams, or just a select few
    from each? Which team members will be available? Which team members
    specialize in the types of issues the project will tackle?
  • What are the risks for the requirements gathering
    process?
    Define all assumptions, and document all risks
    that might impact your requirements. Understand that your
    assumptions are typically divided into three categories: time,
    budget and scope. They can range from assuming PTO, holidays and
    sick days, to assuming stakeholders will provide feedback in a
    timely manner.
  • What is our ultimate goal in understanding our project
    requirements?
    What is the time-based goal, the budget goal
    and the scope goal? Will it be to compete in the market more
    directly with a competitor? Will it be to solve a customer problem,
    or fix a bug?

By answering all of the questions above in a clear and concise
manner, you’ll have a full map of your requirements ready to
present to stakeholders.

Monitor Progress

Once you’ve gotten stakeholder approval on the requirements
you’ve presented, you’ll implement them into the project
timeline and process. At this point, you’ll want to make sure you
have a method in place to monitor and track all of your
requirements across all teams to ensure that triggers for risk
stays low.

You’ll also want to use this data to report project progress
to stakeholders, give feedback to department managers, and ensure
the project is on track from a time, scope and budget
standpoint.

What Tools Can You Use to Gather Requirements?

At the end of the project, the ability to analyze and understand
the success or failure is entirely contingent around the tools you
use to document everything.

So, as we mentioned, before you even begin, you’ll want a
repository for all of your documentation. Maybe this is a file
sharing system where all documents can be accessed by multiple
users from the same server. Or the tool you need involves a time
tracking system you can use to analyze the time each team member
spent on certain areas of previous projects to understand how long
it might take them on this one.

It would also be beneficial to download a
requirements gathering template
to get a leg up on your project
process. This will help everyone align with business requirements,
user requirements and system requirements.

Whatever the tools may be, make sure it can be accessed from
multiple locations, on multiple computers, no matter where each
person involved is stationed. You’ll want to make it as easy as
possible for everyone to communicate, send updates and provide
feedback across all channels.

ProjectManager.com Helps with Requirements

The key to any great project is to have all requirements
gathered from the outset. This requires a seamless method of
communication across all channels, and a repository that can hold
data for an endless amount of time. ProjectManager.com has tools
that make that not only possible, but easy.

With our cloud-based software, you and your team can host an
unlimited amount of documents so you can store any requests from
people for any length of time. Need a Gantt
chart
that’s cross-functional with a time tracking system?
Our software hosts hybrid tools that can adapt as your project
progresses.

Gantt chart in ProjectManager.comProjectManager.com’s
Gantt chart tracks progress, costs and hours worked.

ProjectManager.com is great for teams looking to communicate
with more transparency across multiple locations. With our
software, you can collaborate effectively and with ease by adding
comments from key stakeholders or team members. Plus, appointees
can schedule tasks and make alerts to ensure clients are being well
managed and the timeline stays intact.

expanded task with collaboration in ProjectManager.comCollaborate on the
task level and create to-do lists with ProjectManager.com

Gathering and managing requirements across multiple teams is no
easy feat. Ensure that team members and stakeholders are up-to-date
no matter what. ProjectManager.com is an award-winning software
that helps teams collaborate effectively across multiple channels.
Sign up for our
free 30-day trial today.

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Gathering: A Quick Guide
appeared first on ProjectManager.com.