The Project Manager Blog


7 Presentation Tips

Last month I sat through one of those presentations where you wish the ground would open up and swallow the speaker. It was dull. There were spelling mistakes on the slides. He lost his train of thought and spent a few minutes going through his note cards trying to work out what point he was in the middle of making. Honestly, for his sake I was glad when it was over, although I can’t now remember what the presentation was even about. I was so distracted by his performance that the message of the presentation didn’t sink in at all. You will have to do presentations as part of your work a...

7 HR Concerns for Project Managers

Human Resources (HR) is a fancy word for people, and project resources are mainly made up of the project team (and the budget – but that’s a different article!). When you are dealing with people, all manner of things can happen that are largely outside of your control. However, the project manager’s role is to support the project team and this requires a certain awareness of HR issues that could affect your team members over the life cycle of the project. Here are 7 HR concerns to be aware of, and what you can do about them. 1. Jury Service In many countries, individuals on the elec...

7 Critical Things For Your Risk Register

When I was doing a peer review on one of my project team’s project the other day I noticed that she hadn’t used the standard risk register template and there were a couple of important things missing from the log she had created. We sat down and talked about the different things that should be included in a risk register and I realized that she had left out some items I consider important because she didn’t know that there was a template that she could use so she had made one herself. Aside from the fact that templates are a great way to standardize project management processes and ta...

6 Tips For Perfect Project Dashboards

If you struggle to pull together project reports, taking information from your schedule, risk log, team time sheets and other sources, then you need to look at project dashboards. A dashboard is a central place that gives you a graphical view of your project status. It’s a collection of graphs, tables and charts that shows an up-to-date view of project progress, normally in real-time. This is so important for a project manager, as you really do need to know what’s going on all the time, and the dashboard can give you early visibility of problems. You can then investigate further and pre...

5 Steps to Quality Management

Quality is such a subjective thing. I bought a fruit cake the other day in a box labelled ‘top quality’ but frankly it was dry and not very nice, even with butter on. Who decided that it was a quality cake? It certainly didn’t meet my quality criteria but someone somewhere thought that it was OK to label the cake as ‘top quality’. Quality on projects is just as subjective. What matters to someone won’t matter to someone else, so the definition of quality changes from project to project and also from sponsor to sponsor. If your project sponsor changes halfway through a project be...

6 Reasons Why You Need A Project Plan

You do have a project plan, don’t you? Most project managers would look at me with horror if I asked them if they had a plan, but many people don’t stop to think about why we bother with project planning. After all, it’s just something that project managers do, isn’t it? It is expected that the project manager will wave a piece of paper at you with a Gantt chart and some dates on, because that’s what project managers are like. But have you ever really thought about the purposes of the project plan? It isn’t just something that project managers produce for fun! It’s an integral...

5 Reasons Why Processes Go Wrong

“Why didn’t the risk management process work?” one of my team members said to me the other day. “We should have picked this up ages ago.” He had a point – the risk management process should have identified the risk that was facing his project tasks, but it hadn’t. And unfortunately, that’s a relatively common situation when it comes to project management processes. They don’t always work as you would expect! Simply having processes doesn’t guarantee that your project will be a success. The processes have to work smoothly and deliver the outcomes that you are expecting...

4 Problems With Project Requirements

Projects are made up of lots of things, and one of those is requirements. Without requirements, what are you actually delivering? At the beginning of the project team members work together to define the requirements and this should be done in enough detail to make sure that everyone knows what is needed. You can use diagrams, photographs, documents, video and more to capture the specification of each requirement exactly. This doesn’t sound that hard. After all, you’re working on the same project and it’s pretty clear what the objectives are. Have you ever sat in a requirements worksho...

Are You a Non-Essential Project Manager?

There’s been a lot of talk recently about what is considered essential and non-essential during a government shutdown in the US. It begs the question: would you be considered a non-essential project manager in a company shutdown? The following will discuss some of the ways you could fall into that category and some things you can do about it. The recent shutdown of the US Government has been an interesting spectacle to observe. Certain government workers were deemed non-essential and sent home on furlough; in total, reports indicated that around 17% of the government was closed. Now, I d...

How to Keep Your Project On Track

Getting my coffee the other day I was struck by what a slick operation the baristas had. It took just a few minutes from taking my order to it being placed in front of me. And that involved three people – the cashier, the barista and another assistant who got my croissant as well. There was also a manager on the floor, overseeing everything and making sure that the coffee and food didn’t run out. They showed excellent teamwork and a commitment to delivering what was asked for in a reasonable time. At no point did I feel that this particular task was going off track, even when I changed ...
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