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10 Things Successful Project Managers Never Tolerate

10 Things Successful Project Managers Never Tolerate
By Harry Hall

Project managers are not just managers. They’re leaders. Project managers shape and influence their project culture for good or bad.

Tolerance can be a great trait. However, project managers must be deliberate in what we will tolerate and what we will not tolerate. Project managers must refuse to tolerate things that cause disorder, degradation, and uncertainty.

As leaders, we must first walk the talk. Before addressing the intolerable things of others, let’s first make sure we’re living up to that standard…lead with integrity. Here are a few things that I find intolerable in myself and my projects.

  1. Poor communications. George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Communication – the human connection – is the key to project success. Project managers must be intentional about creating an environment where team members and stakeholders willingly share and listen to one another.
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How to Be a Productive Project Manager: 7 Tips

How to Be a Productive Project Manager: 7 Tips
By Harry Hall

Many project managers feel overwhelmed with emails, phone calls, and meetings. They often work overtime, but few feel as though they are making progress. Although we are all given the same amount of time each day, some project managers are able to produce greater value for their organizations. Some are more engaged.

Imagine yourself as a more productive project manager, one with greater capacity and energy to complete each day’s tasks. Let’s look at common problems that impede our progress and what to do about each:

  1. The problem: I am spending more time managing issues than managing upcoming project activities.

    Susan, the project manager, had a gnawing feeling that the network team might fall behind schedule on a high profile project. The network manager failed to order the network cable and routers on time, and now the team is scrambling to make ends meet.

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12 Wonderful Ways to Improve Your Risk Management

12 Wonderful Ways to Improve Your Risk Management
By Harry Hall

John Smith was hired as a new project manager at a leasing company, and he was assigned a small project with a team of six people. The project goal was to reduce customer billing defects by 10% before the end of the year. How well did John use risk management to accomplish his goal?

He and his team completed a project plan and identified project risks. He captured the risks in his risk register and periodically conducted risk reviews. Things were going so well that he was assigned two additional projects.

John started his new projects like the first one. However, he was overwhelmed as his project sponsors pushed him to deliver the new projects quickly. He skipped capturing his risks and conducting the risk reviews.

Slowly, John saw the project performance decline; there was greater variance between his schedule baselines and the actuals. Read the Complete Article

How to Overcome Your Worst Project Problems

How to Overcome Your Worst Project Problems
By Harry Hall

Allow me to ask you a question. When you face life’s most difficult problems, do you run away from your problems? Successful individuals, groups, and organizations have a habit of running TOWARD their problems, not away from them.

Rather than seeing problems as unwelcome, problem solvers see challenges as opportunities to use their God-given talents and skills to make rich contributions to their organization.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston S. Churchill

What are your most significant project problems? Are your project teams making decisions and changing their minds repeatedly? Do you find yourself spending more time reworking things than creating new things? Are your stakeholders constantly changing requirements?

Worry and anxiety are not productive ways to respond to life’s challenges. There is a better approach for solving problems. Read the Complete Article

7 Reliable Ways to Improve Project Estimates

7 Reliable Ways to Improve Project Estimates
By Harry Hall

Once upon a time, I sat in the office of a CEO as he described ten years of late and grossly over-budget Information Technology projects. He was more frustrated than a New York Mets fan losing another New York Yankees game. He asked why IT continued to promise the moon, but could not get off the launching pad.

As I interviewed stakeholders within the organization, I quickly discovered a primary cause of the underperforming project portfolio—poor estimates driven by a lax attitude. IT would provide estimates with little project definition or analysis. What would IT do when they missed the promised implementation period? Like a spoiled kid failing college, they would ask for another semester, more toys, and more money. They always had an excuse: “The users never know what they want.”

Fixing this type of dysfunctional attitude and behavior is not easy. Read the Complete Article

Do You Understand Project Scope Management?

Do You Understand Project Scope Management?
By Harry Hall

Project managers have difficulty managing project scope. Many project managers encounter scope creep, but don’t know what’s happening or what to do about it. Why? Frankly, some individuals don’t grasp the core principles.

Do you understand project scope management? Test your understanding. Try this quick quiz before reading the terms below.

Let’s review key terms for managing scope.

  • Project. A project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.” Every project is temporary. It’s not perpetual. Each project has boundaries in terms of a definite beginning and ending.
  • Program. A program is “a group of related projects, subprograms, and program activities managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing them separately.” The scope of a program is the sum of its related projects and program activities.

  • Product. A product is “an artifact that is produced, is quantifiable, and can be either an end item in itself or a component item.” A product may be a building, a software application, or a golf course, to name a few.

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10 Practical Ways Sponsors Can Boost Their Project Success

10 Practical Ways Sponsors Can Boost Their Project Success
By Harry Hall

I often ask project managers the reasons for project failure. One of the top responses is a lack of leadership and sustained engagement by the project sponsor. The sponsor paints a fuzzy picture of what they want, throws it over the fence to the project manager, and goes on their merry way. The sponsor essentially says, “Let me know when you’re done. Failure is not an option.” Really?

Fortunately, some sponsors know how to hit home runs. These sponsors understand that their leadership is essential to a winning season. They stand out from other sponsors by owning their projects and maintaining a healthy relationship with their project managers from the beginning to end of their projects.

Sponsors are typically busy senior executives often coming from the C-suite. In addition to the projects they are sponsoring, the executives have many other responsibilities. Read the Complete Article

10 Terrific Traits of Exceptional Project Managers

10 Terrific Traits of Exceptional Project Managers
By Harry Hall

Think about the project managers you’ve worked with through the years. Which project managers would you qualify as exceptional? Which ones were unusually good?

What traits caused these individuals to be outstanding? While the list below is not an exhaustive list, here are some of the traits and behaviors of the best project managers I’ve seen.

  1. Persistent

    “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” -Winston Churchill

    Projects are filled with pot-holes. Project managers and their team members make mistakes, create defective products, and stumble. Persistent project managers learn from their failures and lead with renewed enthusiasm.

  2. Opportunistic

    “Opportunities don’t happen; you create them.” -Chris Grosser

    Project managers are risk managers that identify, assess, and manage risks including threats and opportunities. Great project managers have an eye for seeing, exploiting, and enhancing opportunities.

  3. Self-Control

    “Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.” -Anonymous

    Project conflict is inevitable.

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7 Sharp Ways to Improve Project Quality

7 Sharp Ways to Improve Project Quality
By Harry Hall

A lack of quality management can have profound effects on projects –rework, schedule delays, higher cost, frustration, morale problems, and lack of customer satisfaction. Can project managers afford not to focus on this critical aspect of project management?

I ask in my quality management training sessions, “When buying eyeglasses, what quality aspects are important to you?” I hear comments such as: The glasses fit nicely. The glasses have the features I wanted. I like the style of the glasses.

Other individuals talk about the quality customer experience: how they are greeted, how quickly they see the ophthalmologist, how easy it is to find their frames, and the fast, accurate checkout process.

Projects are similar–project customers, whether internal or external, receive deliverables and encounter project processes. How do your customers describe their deliverables and customer experience? Do your customers feel they are getting remarkable value? Read the Complete Article

12 Sure-Fire Ways to Improve Project Risk Management

12 Sure-Fire Ways to Improve Project Risk Management
By Harry Hall

If you survey people involved in projects on the importance of risk management for achieving project objectives, a high percentage of the participants will say risk management is important or very important. I’ve seen survey results where 90% of the people thought risk management was important. So…why do few people employ and support risk management?

Many people have had a bad experience. Project managers have performed risk management poorly. Let’s look at several reasons why project risk management can become useless and what we can do to gain better project results through risk management.

  1. Failure to lead by example. In order for organizations to mature and benefit from risk management, leaders including sponsors and project managers must walk the talk. People resist change. Without a consistent example by those in authority, people will likely seize opportunities to revert to their former behaviors.
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