The Portrait of a Project Manager

You study to become a project manager, accrue experience as you lead project after project, update your management skills by attending workshops, exercise leadership each day, and learn from your mentors. But have you wondered what personality traits you need to become an effective project manager or, ideally, a leader? Find out which personality traits are especially useful for a project manager.

Generally, an effective project manager is:

  • Honest
  • Open
  • Diplomatic
  • Assertive
  • Persuasive
  • Able to see the “big picture”
  • Able to handle uncertainty

Probably the most appreciated quality of a leader is honesty. Always keep your promises if you want the team to trust you as their leader. Being open with your intentions and open to suggestions is also something you want to be known for as a project manager if you want to gain your team’s trust and maintain it. Being diplomatic is essential when managing people, as you’ll be managing a palette of personalities, some contrasting with yours or with each other, and you’ll have to make sure the team functions harmoniously as one entity. You’ll have to resolve conflicts, motivate the team to do what they don’t feel like doing, communicate bad news to the key stakeholders, negotiate budget and schedule extensions, and more—all tasks requiring diplomacy. Along with diplomacy, you’ll need to exercise assertiveness and persuasiveness to convince others to support your decisions.

A project manager who cannot see the forest for the trees will be far from an effective manager, and likely lean towards micromanaging. The project manager has to be able to see the big picture at all times, not get lost in details and letting the project’s budget slip while focusing too closely on the tasks being done perfectly according to schedule, for example. Of course, as a project manager, you cannot know everything about every aspect of the project at any time, and this is why you should learn to delegate tasks. This allows you to focus on the big picture of the project at any point along its lifecycle so that you are able to make swift and good decisions should a crisis arise. (more…)

Why is it Important to Become a PM Credential Holder?

Project Management CertificationThe Project Management Certification has achieved huge recognition in the past few years. The projects which are maintained by certified project managers are more successful than non-certified project mangers. Project management has some specific strategies and principles which will help in making the project successful. These certifications are generally provided by PMI i.e, Project Management Institute located in USA.

PMI is the world’s largest charitable/not-for-profit member ship association for project management profession. It’s main aim is to increase the success rate of organizations by providing certifications on project management. PMI provides eight certifications which are mentioned below:

PMP® : Project Management professional

A PMP Certification course is perfect for the candidates who are interested in leading and directing the projects. PMP® is one of the most prominent certifications provided by PMI.

PMI-ACP : PMI agile certified Practitioner

This course is meant for the project managers who want to implement agile principles to make the project successful in an organization.

CAPM® : Certified Associate in Project Management

This is the entry level of certification for project practitioners. This is meant for those who have less project experience and want to improve their skills further.

PGMP: Project Management Profession

This course is specially meant for those who manages multiple projects simultaneously to accomplish successful projects in a firm.

PFMP : Portfolio Management Professional

This certification recognizes the skill of portfolio managers and provides the ability to manage multiple portfolios to reach the objectives of a firm.

PMI-PBA : Professional in Business Analysis

This course highlights you to gain experience in business field. It will also improve your ability to yield a successful business outcomes. (more…)

Talent Management at Project Team Level

Talent ManagementAny organization thrives or fails because of its people. It is no wonder that so many highly successful organizations, like Samsung, Intel, IKEA, Procter and Gamble, just to name a few, invest in talent management. Talent management refers to “a set of integrated organizational HR processes designed to attract, develop, motivate, and retain productive, engaged employees” according to the staff at Johns Hopkins University. For organizations that carry out projects, talent management also means equipping team members with the right mix of technical, project management, and leadership skills, according to the authors of PMI’s Pulse of the Profession “In-Depth Report: Talent Management.” Here are four reasons why any organization that does projects should invest in talent management:

1. Talent management improves projects’ performance.

According to the authors of PMI’s “Talent Management” white paper, organizations that invest in talent management are more likely to succeed in projects than organizations where talent management is poorly aligned with organizational strategy.

2. Talent management means having the right people for the right project roles at the right time.

Effective talent management ensures the organization has qualified team members and project managers ready for any new project when the need arises. As such organizations will not have to wait to recruit new talent, and delay a project’s start, having the right staff available can turn into a competitive advantage.

3. Talent management leads to motivated, and thus productive, team members.

Giving team members the opportunity to grow professionally and personally by developing their technical skills, project management skills, and soft skills, and providing them with mentoring and coaching sessions can motivate employees. Of course, not all employees will take advantage of those opportunities, but those who do will become even more valuable for the project and the organization. (more…)

How to Effectively Transfer Project Knowledge

By | January 21st, 2014|Project Management Training, Team Management|Comments Off on How to Effectively Transfer Project Knowledge

Project knowledgeUnavoidably, some knowledge is lost, but your project team members can skip “reinventing the wheel” if you employ knowledge management. Although this comes at an extra cost, your team does not need to retain all knowledge because most of it becomes outdated or just impractical sooner or later. You want to retain the essential knowledge that can help you run smoothly your current and future projects. Since the team’s composition during a project’s lifetime may vary, knowledge transfer is imperative.

Project Information and Data vs. Knowledge

Unlike project data and information, which are part of project documentation, project knowledge includes all the team’s proved and effective methods of executing the project. Project knowledge is the team’s know-how. While project knowledge is specific to the project, you can extrapolate and apply it to other projects in your organization. In time, project knowledge becomes your organization’s competitive advantage.

In many cases, you can duplicate raw data and information (interpreted data). Recreating knowledge, however, requires much more time for the team members to refine available information through a combination of their intelligence, intuition, and experience, but also through innovation, practice, trial and error, and more. This is why project knowledge requires management: acquisition, retention, and transfer of knowledge within a project team.

Knowledge Acquisition

Knowledge acquisition requires time and experience. For effective knowledge acquisition, the team needs a suitable environment where there is no blame culture and where management promotes informal communication, innovation, and trial and error.

Knowledge Retention

Knowledge retention is more complicated than just creating a well-organized document repository available to all team members. This is because knowledge is more than just explicit know-how that you can easily index as a document. There is also tacit knowledge, or knowing how to do something, usually a prerogative of a few experts in your team. Knowledge, especially tacit knowledge, is transferred through people, not spreadsheets or slideshows. (more…)

Which Set of Skills Is Crucial for a Project Manager: Soft Skills or Hard Skills?

By | January 8th, 2014|Project Management Certification, Project Management Training, Team Management|Comments Off on Which Set of Skills Is Crucial for a Project Manager: Soft Skills or Hard Skills?

It is almost a consensus that good project managers need both soft skills and hard skills. Without soft skills, project managers cannot lead their teams; without hard skills, they cannot lead the projects. Soft skills, also called emotional intelligence, include skills such as communication, problem solving, negotiation, leadership, and influencing. Hard skills in project management refer to the ability of applying the right tools and techniques to run and successfully complete a project.

The right combination of soft skills and hard skills is a matter of training and experience, but also being the right person for the job. In general, experts say that no personality is better suited to project management than another is. People with more extrovert personalities are naturally drawn to management positions, but this does not mean they make better project managers than introvert people with the right skills.

Excellent Soft Skills or Excellent Hard Skills?

Since finding a project manager with the right blend of soft skills and hard skills is not always possible, organizations sometimes need to choose between a project manager with excellent hard skills and one with excellent soft skills. Evaluating which of the two is better suited to lead a project is not straightforward. But finding the solution to this dilemma involves looking at two aspects. One is training. The other one is knowing what type of manager the project needs.

Acquiring Skills

If hard skills can be taught through intensive training or coaching in a few months or a year, soft skills cannot be that easily taught. A person develops soft skills throughout experience, not intensive courses. There are ways to improve emotional intelligence, but since these skills are intangible, the assessment of the level of emotional intelligence is not as easy as taking a standardized test. (more…)

CAPM® Exam – How to Pass It and Is it Worth It?

By | November 8th, 2013|Project Management Certification, Project Management Methodology, Project Management Training|Comments Off on CAPM® Exam – How to Pass It and Is it Worth It?

As any internationally recognized certificate from a reputable institution, CAPM® is not just a piece of paper, although if it were, it would be the kind that can get you shortlisted for an assistant project manager position.

CAMP®, or Certified Associate in Project Management, is a certification you can obtain from the PMI institute if you are a beginner in project management, you had some formal project management training and/or experience, and you need a proof that you understand the fundamentals of this discipline. If you already have many years of experience in project management and want to certify that, there are more advanced certifications than the CAPM®, like the PMP® or PRINCE2®. In some cases, you may not need any certification at all, unless the organization you work for, or want to work for, requests it.

To obtain the CAPM®, you need to pass an exam with 150 multiple-choice questions, not very complicated, but not simple either, based on project management theory. To sit for the exam, you also need to have a bachelor degree and to have completed at least 23 hours of formal project management training or have at least 1,500 hours of demonstrated work experience in project management. These prerequisites may vary, and to get an updated list, it is recommended to have a look on the PMI institute CAPM® website.

The exam is not the simplest, nor the most difficult you will ever need to pass. Probably, the best strategy is to enroll in a great project management class if you need formal training and get a good textbook. Here are some tips, some of them more obvious than others:

  1. Only register for the exam if you really need the certification. If the organization you work for requires it, your employer should offer to cover your training and/or examination costs. Neither the exam nor the training is free.
  2. If you are a job seeker, especially a fresh university graduate, the CAPM® might be the thing that distinguishes your CV from the rest of the applicants with the same degree. Many organizations, especially research and governmental institutions, conduct projects and require staff with some knowledge of project management. (more…)

From To Do Lists to Managing Projects – The Path From Personal to Professional Management

By | October 29th, 2013|Project Management, Project Management Training|Comments Off on From To Do Lists to Managing Projects – The Path From Personal to Professional Management

from personal to professional

Personal life is a good place to start testing the managing skills and also to improve them. Once someone gets to the point when he thinks he is the master of his day by day life he can start extending his skills on his professional life.

No one was born an expert. We all start from low and through study, hard work and exercise will eventually get there. But in time and with patience… This process should start in childhood with the help of parents and continuously evolve in time. Being an organized person will always help in any working domain. Personal life is the right place to practice on. And the best part is that it can be done for free, without constraints and with minimum failure risks.

Know what to do and when

In order to reach the final outcome for any type of work it is important to know what needs to be done and when. Once it is established a to do list it is a good practice to prioritize it. A logical pattern should be followed to reach a goal. One must decide what is going to have the biggest impact either in good or in bad on the final deliverable.

Prepare for battle

Knowing what to do is not enough to be efficient. Nowadays people tend to have so much things to accomplish that they just get distracted from one objective to another. Meditation and exercise are some of the tools that should be used to refocus, that will help anyone to move from one day to another and to stay on track.

A well done plan is the key to efficiency. One solution to achieve it is to do part of the work in the evening – organizational stuff – that will set you up in no time for the next morning. Dead simple: prepare it and then just jump in to get it done.

To mix or not to mix – that is the question

OK, suppose one has what it needs to manage both his life and his job. But is it a good thing to mix them? For simple tasks this may not be a problem but if things get more complicated at work it is a good idea to separate them. Failure in personal life has a smaller impact and will influence only the close people. However not meeting a deadline within a project can be a major risk with a large impact over many people and with high costs… (more…)

What to Do as a Newbie Project Manager

You were a team member and have just been promoted to the project manager position. Or you became a project manager because you “inherited” a project after the former project manager left the position. In any case, you became the so-called accidental project manager, even though it is rarely an accident that one is promoted to this position. Suddenly, you are a project manager. You have no project management training, nor experience, you are a “newbie”. You were likely assigned the project manager role because of your technical skills and years of experience in the organization, and you are expected to become a project manager in no time.

Technical Skills are Not Enough to be a Project Manager

Having the technical skills and experience in your field without having any project management experience or training is not sufficient. For example, this situation happens often in IT when software developers suddenly find themselves promoted to project manager positions. Just because they know their job is no guarantee that they are automatically good project managers. So what can they do to run the project successfully and make a smooth transition from a technical to a managerial role? Usually, there is no time for them to enroll in a project management course, since they have to run the project in the same time.

Find a Mentor and Read the Lessons Learned Documents

If in your organization there are other project managers who worked on similar projects, their experience is extremely valuable. You should convince them to mentor you, even if it means they can only do that during their lunch break or on their schedule rather than yours. Ask specific questions, rather than what you should do in general. If your organization has had similar projects, consult the lessons learned documentation so that you can plan properly for your project and mitigate at least some of the risks. (more…)

Place Your Bet: Project Management Experience vs. Project Management Certification

By | March 12th, 2013|Project Management Certification, Project Management Training|Comments Off on Place Your Bet: Project Management Experience vs. Project Management Certification

Project Management CertificationWhile people relatively new to project management understand the advantage of getting a formal certification such as PMP or PRINCE2, especially when looking for a job, many experienced project managers are outraged that organizations place so much emphasis on certifications when screening résumés. They claim that experience is the one that counts, that no formal certification guarantees that a project manager can successfully lead a project, and that it is frustrating to see that organizations care for certifications more than they care about experience.

Experience vs. Certification

How important is to get a project management certification when you have years of experience and have led numerous successful projects for an organization? Which one counts more, experience or formal certification?

Whether you should get formally certified depends on your status. If you are a job-seeker with project management experience, the answer is definitely yes. If ten or 20 years ago acronyms such as PMP or PMI-ACP were mostly irrelevant for employers, an increasing number of organizations use these and other certifications as a selection criterion for candidates to a project manager position. And where the certification is not a requirement, it is definitely an advantage. In such harsh times for job seekers, no advantage is to be neglected.

Certification Gets You the Interview, Experience Gets You the Job

The frustrated experienced project managers are right when they say that experience should count more than any certification. What many of them seem to miss is that experience and certification are not mutually exclusive. It is not the certification that gets an experienced project manager the coveted position, it is his or her skills, training, experience, and so on. But while the certification may not get a candidate the job, it is likely to get him or her to be shortlisted. (more…)

PMP Certification is not enough, project managers also need good tools and processes

It is widely recognized that good project management is a combination of three key area:

  1. Project management skills and competence
  2. Project management processes, procedures and methods
  3. Project management tools and information systems

In this post we will explain why all three are important for an effective project management. Without effective ways of developing each of them the organization will fail to deliver the best solutions.

Project Management Competence

Project management competence is a combination of knowledge, skills and experience. The first two can be developed by project management training, however the latter, experience, is the most important, but hardest to acquire. Any training and development scheme must provide plenty of opportunity to gather experience delivering projects of increasing complexity. Ideal for this is PMP certification which includes both training and experience requirements.

Project Management Procedures

A number of widely recognised standard methods for project management. The most highly developed is PRINCE2 which comes from the office of government commerce in the UK. This method describes the roles and responsibilities of key members of the project team such as the project executive, project manager, senior user and senior supplier, but it also provides templates and standard processes for the main functions of a project. Prince2 has become widely accepted as the de-facto standard for many projects. Unlike the APM and PMI bodies of knowledge PRINCE2 is quite prescriptive about how the project should be run. For this reason many see the PMBOK and PRINC2 as complementary.

The Need for Effective Planning and Control System

Event the most competent and capable project managers are unable to deliver successful projects if the tools provided are not up to the job. This is especially true if multiple projects are delivered as part of a programme or portfolio. In these cases single stand alone project plans are meaningless because they do not show the overall resource demand across multiple projects.

Today more and more people are turning to server or cloud based solutions to deliver these project management tools. The advantages of the server based solutions are clear in terms of flexibility and availability of data across a number of platforms and in various regions of the world. Often for virtual project teams web-based solutions can provide instant start up and the ability to add members from a number of organizations. RationalPlan Project Server is one of these web-based tools which is growing in popularity.