Newsletter September 2019

The Project Management Office Case Study

Leading organizations who generate value from their Project/Program Office (PMO) are more adaptive in response to increasing complexity and disruptors in their industry. PMI defines a PMO as a key “management structure that standardizes the project/program‐related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools, and techniques.” PMOs also enable strategic change by aligning project/program work with business strategy.

news sept 3GBMC worked with a publicly traded, multinational, cloud-computing and software company that needed to undertake a strategically important transformation project. The project had many layers of complexity, including risk-to-business continuity of operations. The company needed a consistent integrated approach, an underlying structure, and a common language for measuring and communicating progress, in order to manage the project’s complexity and risk. During this successful engagement, GBMC partnered with key stakeholders to establish a tailored PMO framework, enabling successful delivery of the complex transformation project while capturing benefits realized.

The PMO framework effort included creating a detailed Project Schedule as a baseline for efficiently driving the project management monitoring and control cadence for the geographically dispersed, cross-functional, business transformation project team.
The PMO framework solution was flexible and tailored to organizational PM practices and culture, delivering the right balance between detailed progress reporting for effective steering and accountability, and the time needed for project deliverables and conducting business as usual.

In the next two newsletters, GBMC will delve further into this case example on how to:

1. Implement a tailored PMO framework. There are many models of PMO to contemplate. However, it is essential that the framework fits the situation and the challenges being faced by the organization. It should be flexible, tailored to the organization’s PM practices and culture. It must be designed to deliver the right balance between detailed progress reporting for effective steering and accountability, and the time needed for project deliverables and conducting business as usual. Make it scalable and fit for purpose.

2. Capture benefits and communicate value realized. Like any project, benefits realization management is a key process. The business realized benefits such as increased engagement of the Executive Steering Committee; ongoing alignment with the project’s business case and evolving business needs; and clear ownership and accountability across stakeholders, to name a few. Communicate value realized to key stakeholders per an agreed cadence, using impactful visuals and consistent measures.

 

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Newsletter August 2019

Emotional Intelligence and Motivation

What do you do when your project managers (PMs) discover the carrot and stick isn’t working? Your employees may be saying, “I don’t want to work with that PM. His/her projects are always so____” (fill in an adjective that indicates poor motivation).

When we hear this at GBMC, we suspect it may be something closely related to EI: your PMs are not in touch with what motivates their team members. Although current research indicates that the ability to motivate others is not specifically part of the EI construct, it is a related leadership skill.

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So, here are some tips to help your PMs motivate their teams.

Relate self-motivation to motivating teams. When training PMs on how to motivate others, challenge them to look inside themselves first. The EI construct does include self-motivation. Similar to the notion that you have to lead yourself well before you can lead others, we propose that PMs have to know what motivates themselves, first. When asked, PMs usually come up with a list that resembles what the motivational gurus have been telling us for years. So why the disconnect? Self-awareness seems to be the culprit. Help your PMs reflect inward, and then expose them to the latest thinking in team motivation.

Reward PMs who model self-motivation. Here’s how to spot them. They say and do things that demonstrate they are driven to improve and achieve. They know how to create a compelling vision about the goals of the project and build team commitment. They take the initiative to solve problems and remove road blocks for their team. They exude optimism about their project and their team. When adversity hits, they bounce right back.

Pay attention to extrinsic motivators. Use existing people processes like performance evaluations, professional development planning, or talent reviews to identify and put in place those external factors that support or increase the motivation of your workforce. Ensure your PMs are aware of these processes and external motivators, and make it easy and desirable for PMs to take advantage of them.

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Newsletter July 2019

Emotional Intelligence and Project Leadership

We all know that one project manager (PM)—the one who gets results, but leaves a trail of human upset behind. And, we recognize that few people want to work with that PM again. What’s missing in the PM’s interpersonal skill set? At GBMC, we believe a lack of emotional intelligence (EI) is in play.

In previous newsletters, we’ve defined EI and discussed how it is vital to stakeholder management. It’s also fundamental to project leadership. As PMI® reminds us, the competent PM has skills in the strategic, technical and interpersonal domains.

Here are some tips for building EI skills, that critical dimension of project leadership that engenders extraordinary results by teams.

 

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Train. Project leadership requires different skills and approaches than does functional leadership. A new leader taking over a function, inherits momentum, a vision, strategies and a team trained to execute on the purpose of the function. The PM has to work quickly to put all that in place in order to get the team aligned and moving in the same direction. In addition to the technical toolbox of PM skills, it takes EI skills, the ability to monitor and manage emotions in ourselves and others, to motivate and to build enthusiasm for the work ahead. Invest the time and money and provide the experience for your PMs to learn these critical EI skills.

Coach. Like many interpersonal skills, EI is best developed on the job. However, a huge enabler is a coach who helps the PM assess their current skill level and figure out what the end state should be. The coach provides initial accountability for change in behavior until the PM is ready to “fly solo” and be accountable to self. Don’t confuse mentoring with coaching. A coach encourages the PM’s improvement based on a plan devised by the PM, whereas a mentor has a responsibility to transfer knowledge. Use your skilled PMs as role models and mentors but show your PMs how to identify and leverage a coach to up their game.

Reward. When management learns of behaviors that demonstrate PMs do not have, or are not using EI skills, don’t sweep it under the rug. Confront the issue. On the other hand, when you find excellent EI skills, reward them, and recognize the PM publicly as appropriate. Effective talent management often requires both the carrot and the stick.

 

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Newsletter June 2019

Emotionally Competent PMs Manage Stakeholders Better

When a stakeholder is upset…do your project managers (PMs) have the skills to manage that? Can they honor that emotion and get to the root of what’s causing the upset?

Alternatively, can they leverage positive stakeholder emotions? Can they navigate the rough waters of stakeholder management and close out their projects with minimal noise?

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is being aware of how emotions, ours and those of others, play a factor in attitudes, actions, and decisions. At GBMC, we believe PMs who have EI skills are best positioned to identify, assess, and manage project stakeholders for the benefit of the company and the people involved. Relationship management is fundamental to project success.

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Here are some EI stakeholder management tips:

Include Stakeholder Satisfaction in Project Metrics.

Most PMs are results driven. They go for the key performance indicators (KPIs) the organization demands they achieve. A core competency of project leadership is stakeholder management. Understanding and responding to stakeholder emotions is essential. Teach it. Measure it. Reward it.

Ensure Relationship Management Training Includes EI.

Eliciting stakeholder requirements that define the project’s objectives can be tricky. Quite often, there are unspoken requirements and a PM without a good EI toolkit could overlook them. Imagine the surprise when the stakeholder feels those unspoken requirements are being ignored. Sometimes, the requirements could be as simple as having a dedicated parking space when they visit or work at your office, or as complex as wanting a project environment where empathetic listening and transparent communication are the norm. Train your PMs to seek out unspoken requirements.

Add EI to the Stakeholder Management Plan.

Usually, the stakeholder management plan is a table with the name of each stakeholder, notes about their contact information, their requirements, the best way to work with or communicate with them, and how the PM plans to “manage” them. What if the bit about managing them is labeled, “How to Develop and Maintain the Relationship”? What if there is a column or two about the stakeholder as a person? What if the PM includes what they like or don’t like; their hobbies; personal information they have revealed about themselves or their families; and even behavioral style or preferences? Help your PMs make this mind shift.

 

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Newsletter May 2019

Emotional Intelligence and Project Performance

If you hire and supervise project managers, you’re probably confident they have an above-average IQ. But what about their EQ? What are the consequences of appointing a PM with low emotional intelligence? At GBMC, we believe it can lead to project failure.

The Emotional Quotient, sometimes interchangeably called Emotional Intelligence, is the ability to monitor feelings and emotions and to discriminately use the proper ones to guide decisions and actions. EI can be thought of as aptitude, and EQ as ability.

Industry is convinced that project leaders who can monitor and regulate their own emotions and react positively to the emotions of their team members, perform better. Current studies now conclude that EQ can be considered twice as important to success as IQ, technical expertise, and training. Assigning values to choices by using feelings is indispensable for wise decision making, and will make better use of IQ and experience.*

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Can EQ be improved?

Yes, according to top researchers and authors on emotional intelligence.

 

 

 

 

Here are some tips for improving the EQ of project managers.

Raise Awareness about EI 

Train and communicate about EI. Include EI in your project leadership curriculum. Project managers who accurately understand their own EI – the innate ability to recognize, pay attention to, and distinguish between their own emotions – are better able to do this in others. Provide opportunities for your PMs to self-evaluate and get feedback, and give them time to reflect on their project accomplishments.

Motivate PMs to Increase EQ 

Emotions are powerful, and sometimes PMs need encouragement to see them as a benefit on their projects. Project leaders may perceive that “emotions don’t belong on the job.” Help them see that emotions are required for project commitment and completion. Optimism and a positive attitude are prime attributes of capable self-motivators. Expression of negative emotions from leaders detrimentally affect project teams. Don’t let your PMs have the attitude that “this job would be easy if it weren’t for the people.” They must believe that the team is their greatest asset.

Reward PMs for Perceptive Use of Team EQ 

EQ can be a potent synthesis of soft skills with technical skills. Emotional intelligence makes good judgment calls and enables effective communication to the team about things such as budgets, deadlines, earned value, deliverables. What makes your company and your teams stand out? Your ability to motivate team members to their full potential, providing the right project environment for success. Recognize and reward PMs who have skillful teams.

*Sources: Casper, C. M., 2002 and Karen Davey-Winter, 2019

 

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Newsletter April 2019

Business Models

Are your project managers nimble enough to respond to disruptions in your business model? Do they know your model and know how to align their project with the model? What’s at stake if they do not know it or use it? At GMBC, we think there is potential for missed opportunities and projects that don’t realize their benefits when the PM doesn’t know or can’t interpret your model.

An organization’s business model describes how it is financed, what products or services it supplies to its customers and how it delivers value.

Projects introduce change to the organization. PMs need to understand the business model and be able to link it to the objectives of their projects. They should know how their project impacts various aspects of the business model.

Here are tips for helping your PMs connect their projects with your business model.

 

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Involve the PM in the Business Case.
A project needs a business reason to exist. Engage PMs either during or immediately after the case is generated. That way, they know whether they are responsible for developing a new product or service, improving existing ones, avoiding or lowering cost, or modifying the way the organization does business. When the project is meant to change the business model itself, the PM needs to know what that business is and how it is going to change.

 

Train PMs to Link Projects to Models.
With this skill, PMs can calibrate execution strategies, key performance indicators and benefits realization according to the business model. They should be among the first to recognize that something about the project may have an unintended consequence on some aspect of that model. If your business is executing projects for others, your PMs should know the business model of your customers. It’s fundamental to customer satisfaction.

Support PMs as They Use the Model.
It’s a great way for PMs to communicate with upper management. Listen to them in the context of the model. They can explain how project delays may impact the execution of that model. For example, if their project is bringing on a new revenue stream, changing the supply chain, striving to comply with a new regulation, or achievement of a certification (like ISO9000), it usually gets management’s attention when project issues correlate to staying in business.

 

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Newsletter March 2019

Customer Satisfaction

What happens to your business when your project managers (PMs) are not able to satisfy customers?  It shows up on the bottom line. Here’s how:

Customer loyalty hinges on satisfaction. Satisfaction is the degree to which a company’s products or services meet or exceed customer expectations. According to White House Office of Consumer Affairs, on average, “loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.”

It is well known that customers tell others about poor products and services far more frequently than they do the good ones. In today’s media, there’s an accelerated and wide-ranging ability to pass along news of unfavourable satisfaction. There goes your brand.

graph news marchTo keep your customers loyal, make customer satisfaction a core part of your project management competency framework. The Project Management Institute (PMI®) includes this skill set in its talent triangle.

Previous newsletters have addressed stake-holder management, and while that’s part of the satisfaction process, our focus for this one is on those persons who benefit from the results of the project. Customers can be consumers, another business, or even an internal or external sponsor—a person or entity who funds the project.

 

 

 

At GBMC, we have three recommendations for improving your PMs’ ability to satisfy customers:

Teach PMs to know your customers’ expectations of the product or service.
Customers have expectations, and when it is confirmed that they received what was promised, the company has another loyal customer. This should go way beyond collecting requirements. Sometimes expectations are never articulated until they’ve not been met. Teach PMs how to extract and manage expectations.

Insist that customers be satisfied with the project process.
Give your PMs robust and predictable systems, tools, and support. Ensure that policies, objectives, and responsibilities of the project will satisfy them. Teach your PMs to involve customers in planning. For example, plans for any type of user acceptance testing. And while project close-out is rarely the most favorite set of tasks, there should be a high level of emphasis for planning the hand-off to the customer. Deploying the solution, product, or unique result of the project is critical. It may be that “last impression” that brings the customer back for repeat business with your firm.

Expect your PMs to master the skill of establishing and maintaining profitable relationships.
Ensure they know how to take the pulse of the customer, or are trained to really hear the voice of the customer. While most concur that the agile approach emphasizes or drives interaction and collaboration with the customer, your organization may have to take special measures if you manage traditional waterfall projects. Encourage PMs to stay tuned in over the life of the project. Give them confidence that senior management of the company can be counted on to spend time with the customer whether the relationships is going well or not. Have in place a way for the PM (and the company) to monitor the effect of the engagement. And, if relevant to your project or service, a check in well after the project is closed out.

 

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Newsletter February 2019

The Importance of Market Awareness and Conditions
For project managers, the learning curve can be STEEP

These days, the success or failure of projects can depend as much on the external market factors as internal technical factors. Overruns and delays on multi-billion-dollar projects such as the Gorgon project in Australia and the Northeast Water Purification project in Houston are testaments to how market factors such as commodity prices, regulatory changes, labor conditions, and competition can impact on-time/on-budget project results. On Houston’s Northeast Water Purification project for example, the project manager from the contractor, CDM-Smith, last year said his biggest risk was the potential rise in steel prices due to tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration. This political event resulted in what some have estimated as much as a 78% increase in steel prices over the past 2 years – considerably impacting project economics. Chevron’s Australian Gorgon project, completed in 2017, resulted in a $17bn cost overrun – largely due to poor planning and poor risk management around external market factors such as labor costs and equipment delivery delays.

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It is no wonder that for projects big and small, the profession’s leading association, the Project Management Institute (PMI) calls “Market Awareness” a Strategic and Business Management skill for every project manager. In 2015, the PMI formally included it as part of its “Talent Triangle” of skills for the successful project manager.

Staying aware of changing market conditions is more critical than ever for project managers. Yet most project managers have no background or training in the market research or strategic planning core skills needed to stay informed. So how can organizations and individuals begin to equip themselves with these skills? The first step may be to start with a “framework” for understanding the external environment.

 

 

STEEP, a framework for every project manager

STEEP is an acronym for Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental and Political trends. Strategic planners and futurists have used this framework for years because of its simplicity and comprehensive span of topics. Project managers can also benefit by looking at the world through the lens of each of the 5 STEEP areas. In this way, they can train themselves to identify critical trends in the popular media, technical press, trade shows, research papers, and interactions with influential trendsetters. To get project managers on the right track, upper management should stress the importance of reading non-technical publications and getting outside of their project bubble through networking in technical, political and social circles of societal influencers.

Critical Factor Analysis, the focus of STEEP attention

A thorough STEEP monitoring is tough enough if a project manager did not have a full-time job managing the project! But today there are so many things trending that the STEEP activity can become overwhelming for the PM if their scanning is not focused. Thus, their focus should be on things that are truly the levers of success or failure for their project. You might call these things to monitor, “Critical Factors.” By analyzing the project budget to identify the “critical few” drivers for cost savings or overruns, project managers can focus their STEEP attention on what really matters. Critical Factor analysis is a form of project risk analysis. This can be as simple as sorting line items in a spreadsheet to as complex as performing a Monte Carlo simulation to determine the “sensitivity” of various factors displayed in a “tornado chart.”

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Newsletter January 2019

Organizational Savvy –
How to get things done.

How many of your project managers (PMs) are so skillful at getting things done that they seem to glide effortlessly through the duration of their projects? They hit their milestones, deliver the intended results on budget, and execute with high performance and low drama. How do they do it?
One of the core skills that allows PMs to deliver, is the ability to get things done through formal and informal channels. Savvy PMs build networks and use their power and influence with the proper balance of finesse and assertiveness.
They know why the organization has its practices, policies and procedures and can explain the reasoning behind them. They are able to figure out how the organization works and how it supports (or doesn’t support) its projects.
PMs who get things done, know three things well:

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The functions.
Savvy PMs will spend time getting to know what each function in the organization does. They will study what value that function brings to the project. For example, they know what finance, procurement, marketing, and others, contribute to the project. They need to know the organization has these functions and they are good at engaging them. Give your PMs access to organizational information, and encourage them to be curious.

The people.
Skilled PMs build relationships with people in the functions. They use many of their stakeholder management techniques to form bonds. They seek opportunities to communicate about the project; they tend to include functional experts in meeting and decisions. They may even engage in reciprocity with those outside the project who can help them get things done. Host events or forums that connect your PMs to the functions, and if necessary, teach networking skills.

The processes.
Competent PMs know the processes the functions use. They learn the process inputs and outputs and how the process contributes to the project. They proactively anticipate the capabilities of the function and realize what steps the function must go through to support the project. Unskilled PMs may be tempted to try to skip steps or expedite around the standard process which could lead to errors and delays. Communicate and teach the functional processes and coach PMs in the art of leveraging them.

 

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