5 Tips for Coming Up with Great Project Ideas

By | May 11th, 2016|Business Management|0 Comments

Some organizations, including small businesses, may want to start side projects to supplement their revenue, invest parts of their capital, or simply keep their employees occupied full time while waiting for a larger project to start. Coming up with a great project idea is not impossible, as not all great ideas have already been discovered, but it is not a simple task that a person alone or even a team can do over the weekend. Here are some tips for coming up with great ideas for projects:

Define what “great” means

Define what a “great” project would mean for your organization. A great project is one that is not too small, as the deliverables may not be valuable enough to worth the investment of resources, but not too ambitious either because such project would mean high investment, too many risks, complicated project management, and even not enough resources available. A great side project is one that is possible with the resources available in the organization right now. A great side project is one where employees feel that they are creating value and that they own the project. So, as a first step, great project ideas should come from the project team members themselves.

Take your time to find ideas

Give your team enough time to come up with great project ideas. In general, great ideas are not exactly “Eureka!” moments; it takes time to find them. But many people and many organizations are not willing to put up that much time, which makes great ideas, when they do surface, even more valuable. (more…)

Why Project Team Composition Changes Affect Performance

By | June 10th, 2014|Resource Management, Team Management|Comments Off on Why Project Team Composition Changes Affect Performance

Team PerformanceWhen a member leaves the project or is added mid-project to the team, that team’s composition changes. Consequently, the team performance increases or decreases. If the team performs worse after the change, the project manager must find a solution. The first step is understanding why changing team composition affects performance.

Sometimes, the team performs worse because the new team members are not skilled or experienced enough. But when they are, the team should perform better; however, that does not always happen. Even adding experienced and skilled members can decrease team performance, at least initially.

Team Development Stages

Team underperformance is likely to be caused by a mix of factors, unique to each team. One of the main causes is the alteration of group dynamics after a member enters or leaves the team. A modified team acts as a newly formed team. To understand group dynamics, Bruce Tuckman (1965) proposed four stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, and performing.

  • Forming – Individuals start to form the group; individuals avoid conflicts because they want to gain group acceptance.
  • Storming – Individuals start competing, and conflicts arise because individuals define their roles and establish the group’s hierarchy.
  • Norming – The group is focused on problem solving and respecting procedures; individuals trust each other.
  • Performing – The group performs well as a team. (Not all teams reach this stage.)

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Costly Mistake: Communicating Ineffectively with Project Stakeholders

By | March 24th, 2014|Project Management, Resource Management, Team Management|Comments Off on Costly Mistake: Communicating Ineffectively with Project Stakeholders

More than half of what an organization spends on a project is at risk due to ineffective communication, warn the authors of PMI’s Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: The Essential Role of Communications. Over 50% of the project managers surveyed by PMI researchers nominate effective communication as the most important factor that contributes to any project’s success.

Since the project manager is the main person responsible for communication, a project manager that engages in ineffective communications endangers the project. Communicating effectively with all stakeholders starts with understanding what effective communication is and who the project’s stakeholders are.

Defining Effective Communication

“Effective communication takes place only when the listener clearly understands the message that the speaker intended to send.” (University of Pittsburgh)

“Effective communication is about getting your message across.” (Nature)

Effective communication is transmitting a message the receiver clearly understands. Since most messages a project manager transmits are time-sensitive, effective communication in the project management realm also implies timely transmission and reception of the correct message.

Tips for Communicating Effectively with Stakeholders

Identify all stakeholders of your project, starting with the team members, project sponsor, and the customers. Rank their communication needs and define a communication plan. Who and when do you need to update? Whose feedback do you need and how often do you need it? Since stakeholders in each category have different levels of technical expertise, pay attention to the language complexity. For example, you can use technical jargon with your team members, but you might need to convey the same message for the customer in layman’s terms so that you do not bury the message in jargon.

Besides transmitting the right message to the right stakeholder at the right time, effective communication implies effective listening to the stakeholders. Ensure there is no misunderstanding in the messages you get from the stakeholders just like you ensure they understand your messages.

Formal and Informal Communication

A good way to ensure effective communication with your team members is to promote informal communication besides reports, status updates, or planned team meetings that are part of your communication plan. Ensure all your team members can openly express their opinions. Let them know your door is always open for informal discussions about the project. And when they do have questions, give comprehensive answers. (more…)

Project Management Terms – Project

By | August 28th, 2012|Project Management Glossary|Comments Off on Project Management Terms – Project

A Project is a temporary set of actions which aim to create a unique, final deliverable.

This concise project definition reveals the major differences between characteristics of projects and operations:

  • Is temporary which means that is subject to change at a certain moment. In fact since it might change at any moment in time makes it rather transient than temporary.
  • Its outcome is unique. Although the product or service may be included in a large category (e.g. a building, a software product), the details can give the uniqueness of a project result.

A similar definition can be found into A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide): “A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service”.