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Art of Project Management (what your PMP certification is not teaching you)


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The Art of Project Management (what your PMP certification is not teaching you) contains my thoughts on what it takes to be a great Project Manager. This presentation is based on my 20 plus years of experience involved in business and technical projects.

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Art of Project Management (what your PMP certification is not teaching you)

  1. 1. The Art of Project Management (what your PMP certification is not teaching you) by Ron Vereggen Copyright © 2013 - Rapid Success Coaching Inc. - All Rights Reserved
  2. 2. Welcome • My thoughts on what it takes to be a great Project Manager • Based on my 20 plus years of experience involved in business and technical projects • What your PMP certification is not teaching you 2
  3. 3. What Makes An Extraordinary Project Manager? 1. Mindset (aka Attitude) - The right frame of mind 2. Process - Identify what needs to get done 3. People - Influencing others to do the work 3
  4. 4. Mindset (aka Attitude) 4
  5. 5. Your Primary Focus • What value do you provide as a professional Project Manager? • As a Project Manager the value you provide must be focused on how you improve the success rate of your projects • • This must be your primary focus • If you just focus on what your PMP certification tells you - you will just end up documenting your way to project failure Ask this question of yourself every day - How am I going to improve the success rate of my project today? 5
  6. 6. Manage Your Reputation • Your #1 priority as a Project Manager is to Manage Your Reputation (it’s what makes you valuable) • • • Do you have a reputation for delivering value? • • • Do you have a reputation for delivering successful projects?  Do you have a reputation for getting things done?  Do you have a reputation for growing and developing people?  Reputation takes a lifetime to build and a minute to lose Protect your reputation at all costs  6
  7. 7. Attitude Is Everything • How important is a positive attitude to your success as a Project Manager? • • • Your attitude is directly related to your effectiveness • A positive attitude will open doors, make things happen and enhance your ability to connect and influence • What are you doing to improve your attitude? Your attitude is the foundation of your reputation A poor or negative attitude will slow you down, limit your effectiveness and stall your career 7
  8. 8. Do The Right Thing • Whenever you encounter a problem - do whatever it takes to make it right • If you make a mistake - take responsibility and make it right • If someone on your team makes a mistake take responsibility, give feedback and coach them on how to make it right 8
  9. 9. Never Make Excuses • You are 110% absolute personally responsible for the success / failure of your projects • The success of your project lies in your ability to influence others to take action • You need to make sure people are clear on what is required of them and when it needs to be completed  • • • In the real world you need to realize that shit happens.  When it does, you need to engage people … not blame them Understand the problem (for no more than 2 mins), focus on the solution (don't give them the solution - help them come up with it) and hold them accountable for the next action  9
  10. 10. Be Transparent • • • • When you make a mistake - take responsibility   • • • When you need help - ask If you don't know the answer - say so and find out When you forget to do something - tell the truth If you don't think you can deliver - provide options and clarify what you would require to make it happen It's so must easier to be transparent Never lie - your reputation depends on it  10
  11. 11. Keep Calm Under Pressure • • It's easy to stay calm and collected when things are going well • Are you able to control your emotions (so you don't say the wrong thing)?  • • • Do you step-up and take responsibility to make things right? The true measure of your skill as a Project Manager is how you behave when the shit hits the fan Are you able to lead the team through the stressful situation? If you find that your manager steps-in when things are not going well - you need development in this area  11
  12. 12. Learn To Anticipate • Are you able to anticipate the many roadblocks and obstacles that inevitably appear and do something about them in advance - well before they become a problem? • Are you able to hold your entire project (or sections) in your head and notice where problems might occur? • Are you able to predict the behavior of others? Will they follow through with your request? How will they react? 12
  13. 13. Know The Details • You need to know the details • It's not good when people outside of your project raise concerns before you become aware of them • It's ok to say … I don't know the answer to that however I will find out and get back to you • Just don't let that be your default response 13
  14. 14. Develop Self-confidence • The level of your self-confidence will determine your overall success as a Project Manager  • Your (lack of) self-confidence acts as a glass ceiling that is preventing you from moving to the next level • To take on bigger and better projects - you need to improve your self-confidence   14
  15. 15. Have A Learning Plan • The Art of Project Management is not about processes, checklists and methodology • It's more about self-development, influence and strategy - all focused on improving the success rate of your projects  • What’s on your learning plan? 15
  16. 16. Practice Extreme Self-care • It takes a huge amount of drive and personal willpower to turn an idea into reality   • As you move through the day there will be many obstacles and roadblocks that require you to use up your personal energy • It's important that you recharge your personal energy and find ways to reward yourself for the hard work that you do  • See next slide for a list of things that I do to reward myself 16
  17. 17. Reward Yourself • • • • • • • • • • Enjoy a good meal  Spend time with family and friends Meditate  Listen to music during the commute 17 Connect with my mastermind group  • Read a good book  Write in my Journal   • Take a walk (or other form of exercise)  Practice my NLP techniques Talk with my coach  Take a vacation to recharge  Take a course / seminar to learn a new skill
  18. 18. Have Fun • One of the things I learned long ago (and that my wife is quick to remind me when I forget) is that I need to stop taking myself so damn seriously • It's amazing what can happen when you stop sweating the small stuff and focus on having fun • The simple act of connecting with people during the first few minutes of a meeting can go a long way with team morale and commitment  • Look for ways to inject fun into your projects - you will be glad you did 18
  19. 19. Process 19
  20. 20. See The Big Picture • Know what problem you are trying to solve • What does the client care about most? • How does your project fit into the bigger picture? • How important is your project to the organization? 20
  21. 21. Ask Questions • Good Project Managers are extremely curious and have a thirst for knowledge • If you don’t understand what is going on - ask a question • • • If something doesn’t seem right to you - ask a question If you are not clear on the next action - ask a question TIP: Great Project Managers appear to know all the answers because they have learned how to ask the right questions 21
  22. 22. Do Your Homework • You need to go deep enough into your project to know the details • To anticipate the issues, improve quality, do the right thing and to get it right the first time • Warning - Don't slow your team down by staying in the weeds 22
  23. 23. Which Methodology? • Are you aware that there are different project management methodologies? • The two most common methodologies are classic waterfall and agile • Do you know which methodology to apply depending on the problem you are trying to solve? • Most PMs only know classic waterfall - this is like treating every problem as a nail since the only tool you have is a hammer 23
  24. 24. Don’t Do Stupid About half the steps in the project development lifecycle (specifically classic waterfall) are a waste of time For each step I find that either ... 1. Nobody cares / Nobody is watching  2. Nobody cares / Somebody is watching (it only appears on some PMO checklist) 3. Somebody cares / Nobody is watching (unless the shit hits the fan) 4. Somebody cares / Somebody is watching (many downstream processes production gatekeepers / audit )  I only focus on the last two (numbers 3 and 4) and ignore everything else 24
  25. 25. Write The Charter • • • Most Project Managers do a poor job / skip the project charter - big mistake  • • • • • • • Determine what project methodology you are going to use and why Don't let someone else do this This is the contract between you and the organization (executive steering committee) Define what's in-scope and out-of-scope Define the resources (people and skill set) that you will need  Define the schedule / time-line you will deliver in  Define the overall budget for the project  Highlight any know risks and constraints Include your assumptions that led you to clarify scope / resources / schedule / cost 25
  26. 26. Change Control • • Your project will evolve • • • • • • Formally document everything that impacts your original Charter Trust me when I say that your reputation depends on how well you can explain the history of your project Anything that changes scope / schedule / cost Save internal and external sign-offs (store PDFs) Save key emails (store PDFs) Use your weekly status report to highlight issues  Log key decisions in project log 26
  27. 27. Create A Project Mantra • Examples  - Get It Right The First Time (if there is a history of a high defect rate)  - A Date is a Date is a Date (if there is a history of date slippage)  • • Stick with the mantra through the entire project  • If possible - align the message with what the Leaders within the organization are saying Repeat it at every opportunity (you need to say things 7 times for people to hear it once) 27
  28. 28. Your Estimate Sucks • People (and that means you) are not very good at estimating the overall size of a project • The reason for this is that you might be using the wrong project methodology to solve a complex problem • • • • Activities always take longer than anticipated  • A good rule of thumb is to do this for anything over 5% of your baseline  Projects end up costing way more than estimated  Your SWAG (sweet wild-ass guess) is about as good as it gets  The key to project success is to document your initial SWAG as part of the Project Charter and then document, communicate and have the project executive steering committee review and approve all major changes to scope / schedule / cost  28
  29. 29. Key Project Artifacts (created / maintained / owned by the PM) • • • • • Project Charter (created at start of project) • Project Change Request (document anything that impacts charter) • Project Budget (watch this like a hawk)  Project Schedule (project time-line) Project Resources (required resources over time and costs) Weekly Status Reports Project Status Log (spreadsheet with a tab for each actions / issues / risks / decisions / changes) 29
  30. 30. Publish a Weekly Status Report • You must issue a weekly status report (even if you are not asked to) • Use Traffic Lights (Green / Yellow / Red) for each Area (overall / scope / schedule / cost / resources)  • • Identify key accomplishments • Highlight Risks and Issues  Status of project changes (anything that impacts your charter)  30
  31. 31. Publish a Project Newsletter • Idea from Seth Godin • Purpose - To recruit people to your cause  • Great for getting support for internal projects • Highlight the cool stuff you are working on  • Tell people how you are going to change the world 31
  32. 32. Master Your 2 Minute Update • As a Project Manager there are many opportunities that you are given to provide a 2 min update on the overall status of your project  • • • • • What accomplishments are you going to highlight? What issue are you going to raise?  What concerns / risks are you going to mention?  What help are you going to ask for?  Remember the other rules - Over Communicate / Never Surprise Anyone  32
  33. 33. Key Project Meetings Meet with each of these groups regularly …  - Project Leads (daily) - Project Team (weekly) - Client (weekly) - Executive Steering Committee (bi-weekly or monthly) 33
  34. 34. Own Your Minutes • • • • Don't let someone else write up your meeting minutes Remember - whoever writes the minutes owns history Distribute the minutes within 24 hours of the meeting Capture these items in a project log (use a spreadsheet with multiple tabs)  - Next Actions  - Key Decisions  - Issues (be clear on the 'so what' and highlight the next action)   - Risks (add new risks as you identify them / highlight risks that may become an issue) - History of changes to Project Charter 34
  35. 35. Manage Risks • • What can go wrong? • Manage key dependencies (what other projects are going to impact you?)  • • Factor everything into your project charter Risk management is about anticipating the common problems in your organization Your contingency will be used up before you realize 35
  36. 36. Scope Creep • All those little additions to scope can add up and will impact your schedule AND your budget  • When you follow the practice of 'Doing The Right Thing' it can AND will add to your scope  • It's your call if and when you need to formally document a change to your original charter • You need to find the right balance between documenting every little change and letting things spin out of control 36
  37. 37. Improve The Process • • • • Great PMs take a hands on approach to learning • Help your team improve by tracking lessons learned so they don’t make the same mistake again • Help the organization get better by sharing lessons learned with your peers Be curious on the best way to get your project completed Learn everything you can by asking great questions Make sure you learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them over and over 37
  38. 38. People 38
  39. 39. Learn The Landscape • • What's the formal org chart? • • • • Who do people listen to in meetings?  Who are the key influencers in the organization (hint - it's different than the formal org chart)?  Who has the most to gain if the project succeeds?  Who has the most to lose if the project fails? How does the work get done? (SDLC, project methodology - waterfall / agile)  39
  40. 40. Build Your Informal Network • Work outside the org chart  • Ignore silos  • Develop key relationships  • Help others and they will help you • Identify the key players (aka rock stars) you will need to make your project a success 40
  41. 41. Influence Without Authority • • • As a PM you are responsible for getting the project done  • This is not easy since every person has different drives, motivations and goals • You are also competing with other Project Managers for their attention • You know when it's working when the people on your project get their stuff done on time, raise concerns early and look for ways to help other members of the team People working on your project will rarely report directly to you You need to figure out how to engage people to work on their assigned tasks and deliver on time 41
  42. 42. Get Executive Buy-in • Your project will fail if you don't have executive buy-in  • Establish your Executive Steering Committee • Make sure you have engagement from key players  • Ask for their help - that's what they are there for 42
  43. 43. Over Communicate • • You can never over communicate  • You need to say things at least 7 times for people to say they heard it once • Communication is not 50/50 - if they don't hear it / get it / understand it - it's 100% your fault  • • • Take every opportunity to speak about your project  At a minimum you need to double whatever you are doing now  Start every meeting with your key message / project mantra  Use your 2 min update wisely  43
  44. 44. Make Your Team Better • • • • What are you doing to make your team better? • How are you leveraging the strengths of each member of your team?  • Have you aligned the goals and desires of each team member with that of your project?  How are you helping them with their learning plan?  What is each member of your team working on improving?  Are you giving both positive and constructive feedback (about 50 / 50 split)? 44
  45. 45. Recruit Rock Stars • • Identify the best people for your project  • • Do whatever it takes to recruit them to your project  Remember - you are looking for attitude / passion / enthusiasm along with competence   Figure out how you can align the success of the project with one of the following ... - something cool to add to their resume  - able to learn a new skill  - key exposure within the organization  - as a stepping stone to help them move to the next level  45
  46. 46. Mentor Jr. Rock Stars • • Occasionally you will discover Jr. Rock Stars • I’ve found it to be extremely rewarding when I have invested time and energy to mentor someone that has the right attitude • I know that I am thankful to all the mentors that I have encountered on my journey that have invested time and energy to provide me with guidance, feedback and coaching - I couldn’t have done it without you A person that has the right attitude / passion / enthusiasm - however may not have the right skill 46
  47. 47. Remove Bad Eggs • Negative / whining people will bring your project to a halt • Do whatever you can to remove them from your project • If you have no choice - highlight it as a risk 47
  48. 48. Hold People Accountable Who What Steering Committee Client Architect Business Analyst Developers Testers Production Support Operations Changes to Project Charter Identify The Problem Define The Solution Traceability of Requirements Unit Testing / Code Reviews Test Coverage Deploy Walkthroughs Transition to Steady State 48
  49. 49. Clarify The Next Action • Most people are working in reactive environments where the most urgent items get attention • Your role as Project Manager is to ensure everyone on the team is clear on what their next action is and when it's due • Every interaction should be focused on clarifying the next action • • Every next action must be accompanied by a due date  Your project log is the place to document all next actions 49
  50. 50. Follow-up • Don't assume everybody knows what needs to be completed next  • You need to make enough noise to grab peoples attention so you can get them to work on your project • You must follow-up with every next action • Use your project log to track everything  50
  51. 51. Never Surprise Anyone • • This can be one of the hardest things to do • Explain the issue / get buy-in from key players prior to meetings  • Surprises should be documented as a project risk (if it's not documented - add it to your project log now)  • Risks turn into issues that impact scope / schedule / costs If you need to - do it one on one - never in meeting / group setting  51
  52. 52. Celebrate Success • Acknowledge when people get it right  • Success is found in the journey - not the destination • Take time to celebrate the success along the way - both small and large   52
  53. 53. What’s Next? 53
  54. 54. Join Mastery Rocks! • Mastery Rocks is a LinkedIn group of like minded career professionals • We are focused on becoming the best of the best - top 5% of our field • We help each other accelerate our progress toward our personal and professional goals • We help you create an actual plan, with actionable steps, that will move toward the next level in your career • Visit to learn more 54
  55. 55. The Best Self-Development Training Available • Learn a set of self-development tools that enables you to … 1. Increase your level of self-confidence 2. Deal with emotional highjacks and improve your recovery rate 3. Access flow (aka the zone) and other states of peak performance 4. Improve your ability to connect with and influence others  5. Focus your attention and intention on accelerating your success 6. Align your goals with your purpose  • Visit to learn more 55
  56. 56. Ron Vereggen As a Senior Project Manager I help companies increase the success rates of their projects. I specialize in enabling teams within large corporations in the banking industry to deliver large technology projects / programs. As a Career Coach I enable IT Professionals to connect with their purpose so that they can do work that matters. I do this by helping you identify what is slowing you down and help you to create an accelerated learning plan that will move you into the top 5% of your field. @vereggen 56