Tag Archives: project management communications

Council signs saying what we are all thinking – Friday snippet

Whilst walking the dog recently I came across a new sign in the cemetery – now it may not sound like the best place to walk the pooch but there is a rather lovely “outer” walkway which is very popular for dog walkers and families, a must for town centres! The sign is an official council notice, but rather than signs of times past which might state; “Dogs must be kept on leads at all times” and “£xxx fine for dog fouling” etc this sign says so much more. On reading it initially I thought, wow that can’t be official but I also completely agree with it. From factual to explaining why we should comply actually struck a chord with me – perhaps a new way of reasoning with those who consistently break the rules.

I am one of few responsible dog owners that always cleans up after my dog and always has him under control. I do “tut” a lot at owners who let their dogs run a mock over graves and do swear under my breath when I step into faeces (who doesn’t right!).

I can see this approach to tapping into people’s consciences to deter bad behaviour could really work. Similar to project communications – we are often told not to do this or must do that but how often is there an explanation for the reasons behind the “rules” in place?

I have worked with a fair few colleagues and stakeholders who didn’t want to rock the boat by pushing back on decision makers and asking why!?

As much as we encourage questions and expect them – it doesn’t usually happen that way, so why not take a different approach to working and talk about reasons / affects as much as you would benefits!

Changing with the Times – ERM & CRM Systems

The terms Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) have been buzzwords in modern and efficient businesses for some years now. However implementing change can be difficult when there are in-built procedures that are working, but may not be as efficient as your competitor’s streamlined system. Jon Mell from IBM says there are some environments that still operate with huge mainframes that are unlikely to ever migrate. Yet innovation is the only way to remain competitive today and resistance to change will have a detrimental impact on business.

The problem most businesses face is accepting the initial cost expenditure in order to reap the rewards in the long-term. There is always a problem accepting that something needs to change when there seems to be little wrong with existing systems. In many situations it is hard to attribute a rise in costs because of extra marketing and sales efforts to lowering levels of competitiveness. It is easy to assume our businesses are suffering from the effects of the global downturn and shortening margins are an industry problem.

This is the best time to bring in some business analysis so a suitable design solution can be presented that can highlight where your business is haemorrhaging profits and falling behind similar businesses chasing the same clients. Data migration is almost always possible in modern systems and migration presents a perfect time for a remodelling of your data structure and this provides opportunities to streamline and improve efficiency.

In a world where data accessibility is improving productivity in workforces, empowering employees to implement change and giving leaders the tools to monitor and improve, the trend to encapsulate data in a decision centric environment is more critical in competitive marketplaces than ever before.  Some businesses will only need help on project management for specific initiatives, whereas others would require a complete design and build for an enterprise wide evolution. Whichever it is, there are obviously many ways to squeeze maximum profits from any operation.

Many companies have adopted ERM and CRM systems in the last ten years, but a lot has changed in computing in that time. Ten years ago, social networks were a concept and ten years before that we had no internet worth speaking of. Technology is constantly improving our lives in every way and businesses that are able to benefit from the right attitude to change will profit as a result.

Speaking to a professional who are specialist Netsuites consultants can give you a better idea of how a change can bring massive improvements in efficiency and profitability.

Does Working in a Team Have to Cause You This Much Grief?

Working in a team is something which can make any job more interesting but it can also cause you a bit of grief if difficult situations aren’t handled in the right way. I decided to have a look back at some of the worst team situations I have been in to see whether they could have been fairly easily avoided or fixed.

Jealousy and Pickles

Isn’t it strange how even the most mild-mannered colleague can get overcome by rage at some point in their career? I used to work with a chap whose only notable personality trait was that he ate cheese and pickle sandwiches at his desk at the same time every single day during 4 years.  One day he discovered that he had been overlooked for promotion and went ballistic. For a second I thought that I was going to end up with cheese and pickle all over my new suit. This is one of the most difficult subjects to handle but with a bit of proper team building and better communication I am sure that he would have appreciated the efforts of his colleagues more and not got so annoyed at the news of someone else’s promotion.

Everyone Doing the Same Thing Differently

I once got involved in a fairly big project which had people working on it in different parts of the country. The only bad part of it was that we all ended up doing similar tasks in different ways because we didn’t speak to one another. When we finally all got together for a meeting and a bit of team building no one knew what was going on any more. In this case the communication had to come earlier on, as it was obviously that a geographically dispersed team was going to have problems in this respect.

Longer Working Hours But No Pizza?

I remember another job in which we needed to deliver a report at very short notice. The boss took the wrong approach and tried to force us into staying till late to get it done. The whole office rebelled and by a minute past 5 the place was deserted. For about a month afterwards the office was filled with a hostile and frosty atmosphere due to this problem. What our boss should have done was explain the situation and try to persuade us to stay by offering us overtime pay or even just offering to order in a pizza or something.  Staying late and pulling together to achieve a difficult target is actually a good way of fostering a team spirit through team building, provided it is done the right way and pizza is involved of course.

If you want to stop your team members having a hard time at work then you should look to get some team building done as soon as you can.

Imagine there’s no email – communications planning

Back in the day before technology such as email, social networking and forums had been thoroughly adopted we were resigned to actually speaking to each other – either face to face or via telephone. I wonder if we compared success rates for project delivery to today if achievement was higher? Probably not, however I bet communications were deemed as much stronger. I am a huge fan of modern technology and it’s benefits for easy access and recorded communications however as we become busier and lazier – it is all too easy to fire off a few emails and update online activity boards without actually discussing any changes or actions required by the project team. How many times have you seen your name entered next to a piece of information or been put on copy of an email and thought; “what does that actually mean?” Our ability to interpret information varies from person to person and so a great deal of important instruction / information can also get lost in translation.

As a project manager the minimum you should be doing is making sure you speak to people, understand their workloads other commitments and ensure everyone is clear on what is required. I am not a fan of unnecessary meetings either, meetings are required but only last week I was talking with a PM from the investment management sector who was complaining that they have meetings about having meetings – this is of course a step too far.

Work out a communications plan – make sure you list everyone involved on the project with the most heavily involved at the top working down to less active members of the team. Placing priority on the more heavily involved and working out a mutually convenient way to communicate such as weekly calls / coffee and teleconferences for groups to join in is a good start. Don’t be a stranger to the team and if possible, do pop over for a coffee and chat to see where they are at with their workstream. By effectively communicating at the start of the project and building relationships – you can convince the team of your intentions to keep in touch and that you are not micro managing, explaining the need to have a transparent view of where everyone is at will help you all work together more effectively. In my first PM role I reported to a programme director who said to me, “If you tell me when things aren’t going to plan, I will have your corner. If you cover up and drop me in it then you are on your own.” You can’t say fairer than that! Encourage your team to communicate – but you can only do this if you are openly and regularly communicating yourself.