By Elisabeth Goodman, 26th November 2015
Why a second look at project management?
We have been running an introductory course on project management for Library and Information Professionals for a while now, through TFPL. This has just been rebranded as Successful Project Management.
We also include a short module on “Managing Projects, Processes and Problems” in our Introduction to Management course and find just this summary slide very effective to tease out challenges and opportunities for managing projects more effectively.
Many people are expected to lead projects without having received any or very little formal training. Although there are a lot of in-depth courses available for project managers, we’ve found we can make a big difference with just our one-day overview of the basics.
This newsletter picks up on four aspects of project management that have been cropping up quite regularly in our courses. It also builds on one of our previous newsletters: Notes for the occasional project manager.
Working in a matrix environment – project charters
Many of the people we work with are both line and project managers. Or they are managing people who also report to someone else in a matrix environment.
Either way, it can be quite challenging to ensure that project team members have the support from their line managers, and are themselves committed to providing the time and attention that the project leader needs.
Individual project charters are a relatively simple tool that can facilitate conversations between the project leader, individual team members, and relevant line managers to discuss and agree roles, responsibilities and time commitments.
We recognise that project priorities will change, and individuals may be involved in more than one project, but the project charter provides a starting point for facilitating further conversations and agreements.
What to do if the project is not initiated by the project leader; how to influence your business development team
Many of the managers that we work with ‘inherit’ their project from someone else. Sometimes this is the business development team who liaises directly with the company’s customers. Or it may be another member of the management team.
The consequence is that the project comes to the project manager with the timelines, budgets, resources already defined. They are not necessarily realistic, and may not be open to renegotiation.
In the spirit of sharing knowledge and experience, continuous improvement, and learning in general, one approach might be to invite those who initiate projects, such as the business team, to project reviews. That way they can hear first hand what the impact of pre-defined timelines, budgets and resources have been on the project, what happened in practice, and what might be done differently next time. There is more on learning reviews below.
How to capture and make optimum use of learnings from projects is a perennial topic of conversation amongst both project and knowledge managers. Project teams often do not make the time to reflect on how the project went, and to identify what successes they might build on in future projects, as well as what they might do differently. Where they do capture such learnings, organisations seldom have a mechanism to act on these learnings in their future work.
We recently provided advice, organisation and facilitation for a retrospective learning review workshop for an organisation. The workshop participants identified 21 recommendations to act upon as a result of the learning review. The organisation will also be adopting a simplified version of the learning review to support all future projects.
Risk management is not just for Health and Safety, nor just for Quality Assurance audits.
There is a lot of cross-over between the different disciplines that we support, as illustrated by a couple of seminars that I have recently co-led for the APM in my capacity as committee member for the Enabling Change Specific Interest Group (SIG).
- Elisabeth Goodman and Carl Halford, “Process Improvement and Change Management“, APM Thames Valley and Enabling Change SIG event, Reading 29th October 2015
- Simon Williams and Elisabeth Goodman, workshop on “Social Communities – Fostering communities to enable change” at the PMO Conference, 22nd October 2015
We introduce our delegates to the FMEA (Failure Mode Effect Analysis) matrix used in Lean and Six Sigma. It is a variation of risk management tools used in project management, in Health and Safety, and for Quality Assurance audits.
Project teams that take the time to go through this kind of analysis at the start of their projects, can do so with the insights that they and others have learned in previous projects. Like all project management tools it is one to keep very much alive, constantly referred to and updated throughout the life of the project.
We also continue to be included in the ‘on demand’ course list for CILIP, and are in fact one of the first CILIP recognised CPD providers. Our courses with CILIP include:
- Achieving successful business change
- Building highly effective teams
- Fostering effective knowledge sharing and collaboration
- Making the most of your time and resources
- Team building with Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
RiverRhee’s 2016 course and date list for Life Science companies is now available. It includes the details for our one-day Introduction to Project Management course.
We are in the process of developing half-day versions of “Effective Influencing and Communication” and “Time and Meeting Management” to deliver to a local Life Science company and would be glad to discuss either of these with any one else who might be interested. We are also able to provide training / coaching in Sales and Marketing.
We have also had expressions of interest for our new half-day “Management Development” workshop which uses the Myers Briggs (MBTI) tool to help participants gain more in-depth insights on their style as a manager and how to interact more effectively with others. Do get in touch if you would like to join us for this.
Last but not least we could not resist sharing this wonderful testimonial from one of the delegates at our November Introduction to Management course: “I have been on numerous courses and this was by far the best. Fantastic content, delivery and above all instructors.”
If you would like to find out more
Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers, enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team. See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.