Thought Leadership in Project Management: Q&A with Erika Flora

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Erika Flora, PMP, PgMP, PRINCE2

Erika Flora, President and Founder of BEYOND20, started her career as a Microbiologist turned Project Manager and has always had a passion for improving how companies manage work and serve their customer base. In 2006, she started BEYOND20, a consulting and training firm built on expertise in IT Service Management, Cloud Services, and Project Management. Since that time, BEYOND20 has grown to include offices in Washington DC, San Diego, and Phoenix. BEYOND20 customers span 28 countries on 5 continents, and over 25% of Fortune 100 companies work with BEYOND20 to support their process improvement initiatives. BEYOND20 is proud to be a DBE certified woman-owned, minority-owned small business.

Continue reading Thought Leadership in Project Management: Q&A with Erika Flora

Some Reasons Why Projects Fail

– By Dr. Emad Rahim, PMP, CSM

Rapid globalization of business means organizations must significantly increase its capacity to accurately manage information and data. In response to this growing capacity demand, more discussion is needed to develop effective project management processes and approaches.

Many new product developments are cancelled before completion and never implemented. Researchers have indicated that most projects fail because of poor project management skills. In these failed projects, estimation mistakes, lack of clarity, and unstable goal and objectives were cited as core problem areas. Below are additional areas of concern as described in the article, Why Web Projects Fail.

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1. Poor planning

In more traditional functional organizations, project managers often lack the time to appropriately plan because of the pressure from senior management, and as a result, the project is performed before the plan is appropriately defined.

2. Unclear Goals and Objectives

Projects must have clearly defined requirements, the absence of which can create timing delays and communication bottlenecks. If a project manager lacks the experience to describe the type and the extent of resources he or she really needs, the project is at risk.

3. Misalignment

Information systems need to be aligned with the organization’s business objectives. When discussing alignment, it is important to address market share, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, corporate citizenship and innovation. To begin, companies must properly assess everything, and then align its findings

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Conclusion

Interest in project management is expected to increase in the near future, partly due to rapidly developing globalization and growing awareness of knowledge management. Companies must manage a wider range of coverage, increasingly complex information system architecture, and the rapidly changing environment. In order to face such challenges, senior project managers must create a portfolio management model that is aligned with business goals. It will help the project manager and the team to maintain control over corporate assets and project processes. Furthermore, the project manager should be aware of the common mistakes that destroy business projects and learn from the identified mistakes. These learning experiences should be captured in a repository as “lessons learned” so the successors do not make the same mistakes.

 

Risk Factors in Communication Management

By Alexandria Loveless, Associate Project Manager at Starbucks

Alexandria Loveless
Alexandria Loveless

It is important for the project manager to understand the cultural differences within their team, department and organization. Cultural factors can create barriers within a team through verbal language, body language and written communications. This can include semantics and connotations, social conventions and nonverbal communication. The project manager needs to take the time to be aware of those around them and respectful of each team member in order to avoid causing cultural issues. This can be done by communicating diversity goals and expectations clearly to the team, not by setting out rules but by setting out the benefits for each individual and the company.

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Gender factors can have an impact on communication styles as well. Men and women can complete the same job and task but may communicate the work differently. Male and female communication differences can consist of different styles and structure. Those two factors mixed with the stereotype that both men and women face can cause uncertainty in perception of what is being communicated. The project manager can practice inclusion not only with cultural differences but also with gender differences. This is important to do in as many communications as possible.

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Personality factors are built on the human relationships between the project team and others within the office. These personality factors can be obvious such as raising your voice, disrespect, condescension, and intimidation. Personality factors, especially from the project manager, can have dramatic effects on the entire team and can be felt throughout the organization by setting the “organizational tone”. Project managers can seek those with different personalities to be a positive addition to the team by allowing them to be who they are which can allow free thinking and creativeness that can lead to thinking outside the box and problem solving during the project life cycle.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexandria-loveless-709160121 

Reference:

Project Communication Management & Leadership, Gray, Laron, Schneider, Dowd & De Janasz. (2015) McGraw Hill, 2015.

Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare. The Six Factors of Communication Risk. May/June 2006.http://www.psqh.com/mayjun06/dunsb1.html.

Business Dictionary. Risk Communication. http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/risk-communication.html.

 

The Benefits of Risk Management Planning

A risk management plan ensures that risks are managed properly. The goal is to reduce impact of negative risks and to increase the impact of opportunities. The risk management plan provides a tool for reporting risk to senior managements as well as the project sponsor and team.  The risk management plan does not identify projects risks.

A Risk management plan details how the team will manage risk (Newton, 2015). It describes the level of risk that is tolerable for the organization (Newton, 2015).  It ensures that the level of risk management is commensurate with the identified risks and the organization’s appetite for risk.

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As a sub plan of the Project plan, the risk management plan includes the methodology that will be used to manage risk including the tools and data sources. It also identifies the owners of risks and what their responsibilities are to manage those risks. Budgeting for risk management is also included so that resources and funds are available to manage the risks. Risk categories are identified as well as definitions of risk probability and risk impact.  The plan may also describe the reporting formats that will be used in the project as well as the process of communicating risk to stakeholders. Risk management plans will also include a probability and impact matrix to assess impact on project objectives (Newton, 2015).

A risk management plan is developed early on in the project, but is reviewed and updated throughout the project.  The development of the risk management plan begins with looking at project assumptions including data, staffing, etc. (Kendrick, 2015). Risk identification is integrated into all the processes of the project to help uncover additional risks and to decrease the unknowns (Kendrick, 2015).  It is critical to review stakeholder tolerance for risk in the beginning of the project so that plans can be made to address the stakeholder need for precise estimates, clearly defined deliverables, and frequency of communication (Kendrick, 2015).

The risk management plan is integrated with other project management plans. It needs to be aligned with the other documents beginning with the project charter. Certain kinds of projects have specific kinds of risks associated with them.  The cost plan determines how risk may be carried into a project through budgeting, procurement and expenditure.  The schedule plan will highlight risk that is carried into a project because of tight timelines or the level/complexity of activities.   The communication plan has information about key stakeholders and their concerns about specific risks and the frequency with which they must be updated.

Defining risks is part of determining scope, budget and schedule.  Project managers need to be alert to risks that may be hidden or unknown as these processes unfold. In particular, risks can be found where there are knowledge gaps or incomplete data.  The risk management plan is integrated with all processes in the management of the project.

Planning For Risk Management

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References

Kendrick, T. (2015). Identifying and managing project risk (3rd ed.). New York,
NY: AMACON.

Newton, P. (2015).  Managing project risk. Retrieved from http://www.free-management-ebooks.com/dldebk-pdf/fme-project-risk.pdf

Careers in Project Management – future PM

By, Ioan Gaitan, Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Civil Engineering Operations and Student in MPM Degree Program 

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Tech. Sgt. Ioan Gaitan, inspects aggregate brought on site for an airfield project at Suwon Air Base, Republic of Korea

Although the project management practitioners continue to be in high demand, the opportunities offered will vary by sector and location. Based on my research, I estimate that the energy industry will see the greatest need for project managers in the near and far future. Worldwide energy consumption is estimated to grow by 53 percent from 2008 to 2035, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s International Energy Outlook 2011. The increasing demand for energy, combined with the high risk associated with these projects, translates into a significant need for experienced project managers (Hot sectors for project managers, 2010).

Although many nations are actively exploring renewable energy sources, traditional energy is still a hot sector for project managers. Some of the largest energy projects in the world are currently driven by the new oil-field discoveries and advances in fossil-fuel extraction technology. Let’s discuss about some countries that are experiencing this growth and have difficulty finding experienced PMs.

In Brazil, for example, the untapped oil fields off the coast of Rio de Janeiro could turn this country into one of the world’s leading oil producers. Moreover, the country’s 10-year energy plan intends to attract $133 billion in investments and triple its renewable energy by 2020. In order to get there, the nation will have to overcome a shortage of qualified project practitioners. According to PMI, more than 1.3 million new project management roles are expected to be needed by 2020.Despite this high demand, more than two-thirds of employers in Brazil report that they can’t find enough workers with the right skills.

In Norway, oil production has steadily declined over the last 10 years. Despite this fact, experts predict the fields still have 30 to 40 years of production left. The deep-sea oil drilling in the North Sea region is expected to need 100,000 new workers with college degrees in finance and administration by 2030. According to an industry survey released by Oilandgaspeople.com, the world’s largest oil and gas jobs board, found that 65 percent of North Sea oil and gas companies cannot recruit enough project engineers to meet the current and future demand. Because many workers will be retiring soon, the sector’s need for skilled project managers may reach “near-crisis levels.”

Australia has three operating liquefied natural gas projects and seven more under construction. This represents an investment of more than AU$200 billion. Here, a corresponding labor shortage translates to higher salaries for project managers. According to PMI, more than 375,000 new project management jobs are forecasted to be needed by 2020 (Sykes, 2014).

The developing countries will need project managers as well.  Here, project management is still new for many energy organizations. Mr. Olaoluwa Ibilola, business development manager at Korea National Oil Corp stated, “The regions that have giant oil fields and facilities could be tagged as hot, including Libya, Kuwait, [and] Syria.” In this case, the demand for project managers will depend on the amount of discovery and development in these regions. For example, a significant gas discovery in a certain region will drive more jobs for project managers.

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According to a U.S. Energy Information Administration report, renewable energy is estimated to produce almost one-third of the world’s electric power by the end of 2035. A survey of industry leaders conducted by Cooley LLP in 2012 stated that the U.S. investors, executives and entrepreneurs predicted that the renewable energy sector would play at least a moderate (57 percent) or significant (25 percent) role in U.S. job creation over the next five years. Additionally, the Solar Foundation’sNational Solar Jobs Census 2011 stated that “the solar energy industry has bright days ahead, with a 24 percent market growth and 24,000 new jobs predicted for next year” (Bowles-Jackson, 2012). I estimate that these impressive numbers will only continue to grow in the near and long term.

In the last portion of this assignment I will answer the question Why are skilled PMs in such a high demand in the energy sector? Today, skilled project managers are very difficult to recruit and retain in this sector because the large projects in the oil and gas industry become increasingly complex and technologically demanding. According to Nava & Rivolta (2013), “Schedules and budgets are tight, safety is crucial and every project faces a network of stakeholders concerned about its impact on the environment and communities.”

In conclusion, I would predict that the need for experienced PMs will only become more acute as a generation of experienced engineers will soon retire in many countries. Under this circumstance, companies cannot afford to bring second-rate talent into their organizations because projects will only get more complex and their scope will grow (Nava & Rivolta 2013).

References:

(2010). Hot sectors for project managers. Retrieved from http://www.pmi.org/learning/professional-development/career-central/hot-sectors-for-project-managers.aspx

Bowles-Jackson, M. (2012), Sectors to watch. Here’s where the jobs are – and the skills you need to get them. Retrieved fromhttps://www.pmi.org/~/media/PDF/Professional-Development/PMN0112%20Sectors.ashx

Nava, R. & Rivolta, T. (2013). Large project management in oil and gas. Retrieved fromhttp://www.bain.com/publications/articles/large-project-management-in-oil-and-gas.aspx

Sykes, K. (2014). Global jobs report: hottest industries, highest salaries. Retrieved from https://www.pmi.org/learning/PM-Network/2014/global-jobs-report.aspx

Career Spotlight: Contraction Project Management

– Career Spotlight with Dr. Rick Johnson 

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Dr. Rick Johnson

Dr. Johnson specializes in the architecture, engineering, and construction professions. He has established a high level professional expertise in management science and project management on a global scale. As an inducted presidential member of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS); he has also evolved his leadership skills to a recognized national level through the Sigma Alpha Pi chapter of Lawrence Technological University. As a subject-matter management expert and practitioner-scholar in the building industry, Dr. Johnson provides certified construction contract administration and other management consulting professional services to clients.

Tell me a little about your background in project management as it relates to the construction industry?

I have been working in the building industry for more than 20 years. Primarily, this has been as an architectural practitioner with project management responsibilities. Architectural practice inherently involves managing projects and I have been a PM on various types from single-family residential to high-rise commercial buildings. Many times I split the role of architect and project manager but this generally depends on the scale of the project. For many years I specialized in religious, retail, and healthcare facilities and each type required management of budgets, schedule, and other resources, which are all prime areas of traditional project management.

How is the construction industry using project management differently from other sectors?

The building industry is one of the primary industries in the world that uses project management in dominant ways. In fact, the PMI has developed a construction extension that is specifically focused on project management practices for this industry. It is similar to the PMBOK but has concentrated areas due to higher levels of risk, cost, and time constraints associated with building projects (Project Management Institute, 2007). Construction projects are unique—just like project management is based on unique projects. No two projects are the same so the path to completion of a construction project requires proper individualized planning in order for it to be managed successfully. Therefore, a prime difference is the integrated impact that the big three project constraints have on the client’s ability to continue or terminate a project before it is totally realized.

What type of innovation and creativity is coming out of your industry that project managers should be aware of?

The biggest innovative or creative project management development is the intricate interface between technological advances and the different ways that stakeholders stay involved with a project from beginning to end. PMs should be aware of the faster pace that projects are expected to proceed under while also understanding that clients expect more for less. This means that a contemporary PM should be very flexible, but also firm when it comes to following a well-developed project management plan.

There has been a lot of chatter on LEED Projects in the last few years. What are your thoughts on this?

LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”. As a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP), I have learned that energy and environmental concerns are more prevalent than may be immediately noticed by the general public. Within the design and construction industry, practitioners are expected to design and build with a minimal degree of thought given to the impact of inappropriate materials. However, LEED requires the practitioner to pay a much higher degree of attention to negative matters of energy and the environment that can be avoided all together. A lot of the discussion taking place today seems to be centered on the cost involved with developing a LEED project. Some owners do not understand the higher up-front cost compared to the perceived benefits they may have down the line. LEED has to be sold to those who do not understand these benefits and this can make the case for LEED more complex if a monetary decision is the presiding factor for acceptance. On the other hand, owners who already understand the benefits and the role they play in reducing their carbon footprint initiate these types of projects with minimal resistance. They need very little convincing in terms of cost and benefits associated with those costs.

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Are there unquiet skills, certifications and certain type of knowledge that students should be seeking in their education to get a career in your industry?

Students in current day construction education programs should be seeking to learn what the true expectations of industry are. For example, many design programs must teach students how to design building projects using traditional drafting methods, but students must also be aware of the limitation of its use in daily practice. Technological skills are highly expected in practice and professional certifications such as those provided by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) would be fabulous for these types of professionals. For instance, the CSI’s Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA) is one of the top professional certifications that a practitioner could have in this area (Construction Specifications Institute, 2011). This is comparable to having the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential as a project manager but specifically in the construction industry.

What are some emerging trends in construction project management that is changing the field?

One particular change in the field is something that is called “Integrated Project Delivery” (IPD). As defined by the American Institute of Architects (2007) “Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is a project delivery approach that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to reduce waste and optimize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication and construction.” (p.1). Based on this definition, a gap is present that implies a need for a meta-management system that is capable of adequately measuring and organizing the program and overall scope of an integrated project. This can be complex depending on the scale of the total undertaking.

How can my readers contact you or search for more information?  

Email: davale1@sbcglobal.net | LinkedIn: Dr. R. D. Johnson |Twitter: @RJDoctorate

 

21s Century Leadership: Healthcare Organizations

– By Dr. Terrence D. Duncan, DBA, MBA

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Dr. Terrence D. Duncan, holds a Doctor of Business Administration degree from Walden University. He also holds a Masters of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Health Care Management. Dr. Duncan has two of his works published in health care related matters. With 10 years of experience as a claims adjuster for a third party administrator and Director of Safety, these combined level of experiences have benefited clients in numerous industries.

As a Divisional Director of Safety for one of the largest private skilled rehab company in the country, he has managed the safety and worker’s compensation administration for 40 skilled rehab centers and assisted living communities in four states. Dr. Duncan also carries solid worker’s compensation experience and knowledge in the following jurisdictions: IA, IL, IN, KY, KS, MO, and NE.

Dr. Duncan currently owns and operates a risk management and human resources consulting company, J.I Enterprises. The company specializes in lowering costs by providing quality solutions from providing recommendations in risk management, human resources, and worker’s compensation. His efforts have produced thousands of dollars in savings to clients in claim costs and mitigating unnecessary costs found through litigation.

The workplace and its employees have changed dramatically in the 21st century. Due to the advent of numerous social technology apps, smartphones, and selfies, the typical employee profile has evolved to a more dynamic and diverse individual. A more dynamic and diverse employee understands the importance of self. As a result, their individuality is projected into the workplace. The challenge of management is to not only meet key operational objectives, but to retain employees and adapt new ways to promote leadership.

In order to identify and interact with this new age employee, management should rethink their ways of leadership as the speed of communication and expectations have evolved amongst the average employee. Leadership is not as linear as it was in the past. Despite many books, seminars, and lectures concerning how to lead, those in management should consider a style that is most befitting of their personality, as well as understanding the dynamic make-up of the workplace.

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The typical healthcare system consists of multiple positions and skill sets. Each position is similar to a spoke in a wheel that can only move if the manager is willing to bring each spoke into a synergistic effort. For example, in a nursing home, staff consists of CNAs, RNs, laundry, maintenance, housekeepers, dietary, admissions, and business office personnel. Outside of providing quality customer service to meet each resident’s needs, as well as provide solid operational results, leadership is a quality that cannot be provided through company policies or manuals. For this discussion, I propose three methods of how managers can improve their leadership in healthcare organizations within different skill sets of employees.

Communication with Clarity and Purpose

As a leader of the healthcare organization, communication is vital in administering quality of care to patients. Communication is vital to employee as well.  I recommend becoming clear in communicating your expectations of the staff collectively, and finding the time to communicate your vision and core objectives to each staff member. Staff are aware of most company policies and procedures; however, in healthcare, staff cannot provide quality care if the manager cannot provide quality care to their staff.

Effective Listening Means Patience

In healthcare settings, there truly is not a finite ending of a day. Once a task or project is completed, another one is on the horizon.  Despite all the demands placed on a manager’s desk and related deadlines, you must set aside time to listen to your staff’s concerns and needs. Realistically, you will likely not be able to address all their concerns; however, listening to them with a clear mind sends a message of compassion to your staff. Use your open door policy to ask about their day outside of work to show that you place value into their world outside of the workplace. Even if staff is noncommittal about discussing their world outside of work, you show interest in their well-being. This concern plays an underlining role into developing a chemistry between you and the staff member which results in higher performance.

Remove the Title and Become One with Staff

Despite the title on your name badge, take time to become personable. Do not only walk the floor, make sure you take the time to interact with staff regardless of their position or title. Staff reacts to relatability and a genuine personality. By appearing more “common” to your staff, your actions provide a belief that you are on their side. Even when it becomes time to discipline staff, they understand that you are not doing this to be spiteful. Instead, you are doing so because you are required to do so, and they were required to do their job.

Although there are numerous strategies in maximizing the efforts and talents of your staff it is important that your staff needs your leadership and guidance in moving the organizational vision forward. In a world of selfies and individuality, management must learn how to lead by incorporating their individual strengths into an organizational benefit. In this current economy where wages are relatively repressed and raises are not guaranteed, the emotional value of their position should be maximized to improve your organization’s efficiency.