Please specify the group
Archive | Project management RSS feed for this section

16 Essential Questions to Project Leadership Success

Good project managers do not take anything for granted. They are proactive and positively skeptical. They are constantly looking to improve the way the project operates and how they can add value to the client by challenging the status quo. The more quality questions you ask on a continual basis, the bigger the likelihood that you will steer your project in the right direction.

To improve your success rate, ask yourself the below questions and take action to address any gaps you identify:

How can I become more certain that the products and features we are developing are what the users really want and need?

1.How can I, and my team, get to understand my clients business so well that we are able to actively challenge the requirements and the project’s vision?

2.How can I improve my relationship with my customers and more frequently ask into their feedback about the project?

3.How can I get better at identifying and mitigating the project’s risks?

4.How can my team start to focus more on product quality?

5.What could get in our way of achieving the end project goal? What have we not yet thought of?

6.How can I better motivate and utilize the strengths of my team members?

7.How can I better inspire my team to contribute to the project’s end goal?

And here are some more questions that will really help you to improve your performance and add value to your client:

9.What is my unique contribution to the project and how can I focus more on it?

10.How can I instantly start to add more value to my client?

11.What are the 20% of actions that I do on a daily or weekly basis that contribute to 80% of my results? How can I amplify those 20%?

12.How can I spend my time more proactively?

13.Which bad decisions have I made that need to be reverted?

14.Which important tasks and activities have I been putting off or procrastinating on?

15.Who can I start to delegate to, so that I free myself up to focus on the activities that really matter to the success of the project?

16.What are the most important business benefits for my client, that I can help them track and deliver?

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

Combining The Best of PMBOK® and PRINCE2™

PRINCE2™ needs experience and the depth of PMBOK® to fill it out, so it makes sense to study the PMBOK® and get a PMP. But after Project Managers receive their PMPs, they often ask “Where do I start? How do I put all of this together to actually run a project?” PRINCE2™ becomes useful at this point, because, as a methodology, it can shape and direct that knowledge. Here are a few approaches to getting value out of PRINCE2™. PRINCE2™ was designed in an integrated manner, so a project manager can get the most out of it when it is used in its entirety. But there are elements of PRINCE2™ that can be lifted and applied directly in any project environment. Neither of these approaches requires deviating from a “PMP”or “PMBOK®” environment.

Use it for its unique approaches and insights into project management. Read the PRINCE2™ manual, or read the manual and take a PRINCE2™ course. Get a grasp of how the “package” as a whole works. Focus on the elements that can be most easily transplanted into your current environment. The most straightforward elements are: Product Descriptions, Change Control, Issue Management, Quality Reviews and Work Packages (all discussed under “The Strengths of PRINCE2™”). None of these require “permission” from authorities outside the project, so they are easily implemented by the Project Manager. They can even be used by project teams or in sub-projects. As these approaches and techniques become accepted by stakeholders and others on the project, consider using other aspects of PRINCE2™. Because of PRINCE2™’s integrated approach, if you use most of PRINCE2™’s approach to a specific piece in the first round of implementation, you can add features in almost a plug-and-play manner.Features like Project Boards can be powerful when implemented, but require greater buy-in and commitment from stakeholders to succeed — so put these off until greater interest is shown by management.

Use it as the proven, low-cost basis for your company’s methodology. Get to know PRINCE2™ and consider using it as the core of your company’s new project management approach – perhaps along the lines of “PMBOK® and PRINCE2™ – Together”. Suggest it to management, selling it through its credibility wherever it has been implemented (internationally, including by such organizations as the United Nations Development Programme), and its open (no-fee) availability. Remind management that, when used in an integrated manner, it will support your company’s fulfillment of any future “maturity” plans. Propose that a small group create a prototype project management methodology built around PRINCE2™, to build understanding and to plan out how to integrate it into your organization’s environment. (You can do research on how PRINCE2™ has been used via the website of the accrediting body, the APM Group [].They also have case studies on how to implement it.) Your core group should consider getting themselves accredited in PRINCE2™, so you are all sure your team understands how to use it most effectively. (You will also become the Project Office/resource team for all future work under PRINCE2™.) Remember that you will need to bring pieces of the PMBOK® into this methodology to make it complete, so while you’re learning about PRINCE2™, think forward towards how you will combine the two. PRINCE2™ doesn’t have to be used “as-is” – but understanding how to implement it to cover critical quality areas will help ensure that your company will meet later “maturity” accreditation requirements.

By using the PMBOK® and PRINCE2™ together you are taking advantage of the two most respected project management approaches in the world today, and are getting the best of both!

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

PMBOK Guide® – Fifth Edition

It is released in Jan2013 and it will be applicable to PMP Exams to be conducted on or after 1st Aug2013

Changes w.r.t PMBOK Guide® -Fourth Edition is as follows:-

a) Addition of a new knowledge area called ‘Stakeholder Management’ making 10 Knowledge areas.

b) 4 new planning processes and 1 process as Control Stakeholder Engagement added making it to 47 processes instead of 42 processes in PMBOK-4th edition

c) Definition of a Project Management Office (PMO) expanded to include three strata: Supportive, Controlling and Directive.

d) Different types of project life cycles expanded to include (waterfall, adaptive/agile).

e) There is terminology change in processes name like ‘Perform Quality Control’ to ‘Control Quality’ , ‘Administer Procurement’ to ‘Control Procurments’ etc.

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

Change Management

The relationship between project management, Managing Successful Programs (MSP) and change management is not clearly defined. You need the former two to run smoothly for the majority of the time, and for them both to be able to be adapted in times of change

For a company to overhaul its systems, individual projects need to be moved across, along with a set of more long-term programs. Having staff with training in Project Management, Managing Successful Programs and, distinctly, Change Management is necessary for all business areas.

Change management specialists are hoping that the coming years will see an increase in recognition for what they can offer businesses. Here are some areas in which they can push forward in achieving this.

  1. Organizational Buy-In Executives and business owners are now more aware than ever of how change management techniques can be used to benefit their companies. However, there’s still a long way to go for this to be true across the board.

    It will be up to the change management profession to push for this buy-in by displaying professionalism and really delivering results.

  2. Build Relationships

    The links between Project Managers, Program Managers and Change Mangers are very tight, and need to be nurtured for the long-term success of any of the three. Rather than working against each other for recognition, the three professions need to work together and display how they are together indispensable for business today.

  3. Remember Both Projects and Programs

    When change occurs, both short-term projects and permanent programs will need to move with the times. Focusing on one at the expense of the other will be of detriment to your success in change management.

  4. Emphasize Differences

    Many companies assume their program or project managers will act as change managers when the time comes – when in fact a different set of skills is needed. Other organizations take the opposite stance of only employing certified change managers. Make sure you’re affiliated with bodies such as the Change Management Institute and the Association of Change Management Professionals in order to ensure the right standards are set.

  5. Keep an Eye on your Soft Skills

    Change managers, like project managers, need to be able to communicate, motivate and manage people through times of progress and change. Many change managers will be hired on their track record of getting results – but will be hired back if they can get these results whilst being personable and professional.

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

Project Risk Management

Risk Management is the process of identifying, analyzing and responding to risk factors throughout the life of a project in order to provide a rational basis for decision making in regards to all risks. Proper risk management implies the control of possible future events, and is proactive rather than reactive; so it is embedded in to the project planning process. It will reduce not only the likelihood of an event occurring, but also the magnitude of its impact.

Importance of Project Risk Management

Projects often get started in the right direction but then get off track. For example, project managers will spend time with their teams to develop a clear scope and detailed plan. Then something happens; something unexpected—a major disaster strikes. The project manager and team move quickly into their reactive mode – they manage this risk based on their experiences and best judgment but they have no opportunity to test it out and they hope that it’ll be okay, but they do not know for sure. This is not risk management – it is management by crisis. Here are some rules to help you manage project risk effectively:

10 Rules for Managing Project Risk

The Risk Management Process is intended to reduce management by crisis. While there may always be some things that will occur that are unanticipated, most of these, through sound risk management, can be managed, rather than reacted to. Essentially, the Risk Management Process is a quality problem- solving process. Quality and assessment tools are used to determine and prioritize risks for assessment.

  1. Identify the risks early on in your project  
    • Review the lists of possible risk sources as well as the project team’s experiences and knowledge.  
    • Brainstorm all potential risks.
    • Brainstorm all missed opportunities if project is not completed.
    • Make clear who is responsible for what risk.
  2. Communicate about risks
    • Pay attention to risk communication and solicit input at team meetings to ensure that risk management is perceived as important for the project.  
    • Focus your communication efforts with the project sponsor or principal on the big risks and make sure you don’t surprise the boss or the customer.
    • Also, make sure that the sponsor makes decisions on the top risks, because some of them usually exceed the mandate of the project manager.
  3. Consider opportunities as well as threats
    • While risks often have a negative connotation of being harmful to projects, there are also “opportunities” or positive risks that may be highly beneficial to your project and organization. Make sure you create time to deal with the opportunities in your project. Chances are your team will identify a couple of opportunities with a high pay-off that may not require a big investment in time or resources. These will make your project faster, better and more profitable.
  4. Prioritize the risks
    • Some risks have a higher impact and probability than others. Therefore, spend time on the risks that cause the biggest losses and gains. To do so, create or use an evaluation instrument to categorize and prioritize risks.  
    • The number of risks identified usually exceeds the time capacity of the project team to analyze and develop contingencies. The process of prioritization helps the project team to manage those risks that have both a high impact and a high probability of occurrence.
  5. Assess the risks
    • Traditional problem solving often moves from problem identification to problem solution. However, before trying to determine how best to manage risks, the project team must identify the root causes of the identified risks.  
    • Risk occurs at different levels. If you want to understand a risk at an individual level, think about the effect that it has and the causes that can make it happen. The project team will want to ask questions including:
      • What would cause each risk?  
      • How will each risk impact the project? (i.e., costs? lead time? product quality? total project?)
    • The information you gather in a risk analysis will provide valuable insights in your project and the necessary input to find effective responses to optimize the risks.
  6. Develop responses to the risks
    • Completing a risk response plan adds value to your project because you prevent a threat occurring or minimize the negative effects. To complete an assessment of each risk you will need to identify:  
      • What can be done to reduce the likelihood of each risk?  
      • What can be done to manage each risk, should it occur?
      • What can be done to ensure opportunities are not missed?
  7. Develop the preventative measure tasks for each risk
    • It’s time to think about how to prevent a risk from occurring or reducing the likelihood for it to occur. To do this, convert into tasks, those ideas that were identified to reduce or eliminate risk likelihood.
  8. Develop the contingency plan for each risk
    • Should a risk occur, it’s important to have a contingency plan ready. Therefore, should the risk occur, these plans can be quickly put into action, thereby reducing the need to manage the risk by crisis.
  9. Register project risks
    • Maintaining a risk log enables you to view progress and make sure that you won’t forget a risk or two. It’s also a communication tool to inform both your team members, as well as stakeholders, what is going on. 
    • If you record project risks and the effective responses you have implemented, you create a track record that no one can deny, even if a risk happens that derails the project.
  10. Track risks and associated tasks
    • Tracking tasks is a day-to-day job for each project manager. Integrating risk tasks into that daily routine is the easiest solution. Risk tasks may be carried out to identify or analyze risks or to generate, select and implement responses. The daily effort of integrating risk tasks keeps your project focused on the current situation of risks and helps you stay on top of their relative importance.


The benefit of risk management in projects is huge because the outcome of project failure is wasted dollars that steal investor profits and have a negative impact on the organization’s bottom-line. Risk assessments allow you to deal with uncertain project events in a proactive manner. This allows you to deliver your project on time, on budget and with quality results.

Complete your risk assessment early on in the project’s execution and continuously (i.e.; every 2 to 3 months), throughout the project’s lifecycle. This will increase your project’s success likelihood. And, whenever possible, measure the effects of your risk management efforts and continuously implement improvements to make it even better.


Leave a comment Continue Reading →

Effective Communication

All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Thus begins Leo Tolstoy’s  epic Anna Karenina. What he meant, perhaps, is that communication is complete when the mind is happy and uninhibited, and distortion creeps in when the mood is sullen and sad. Most problems in an organization, family or group are the result of people failing to communicate. Haven’t you often said “You don’t understand what I say” or words to that effect? Communication is the exchange or flow of information and ideas between one person and another. Technically, it involves a sender passing on an idea to a receiver. Effective communication occurs when the receiver comprehends the information or idea that the sender intends to convey.

What does a communication process involve? You have an idea that you need to communicate, and a message is sent to the receiver, either verbally or non-verbally. The receiver then translates the words or nonverbal gestures into a concept or information. Let’s take, for example, this message: “You are very intelligent.” Would this message carry the same meaning to the receiver every time you voice these words?

The success of the transmission depends on two factors—content and context. Content is the actual words or symbols that constitutes a part of the message, known as language. It could be either spoken or written. We all interpret words in our own ways, so much so that even simple messages could be understood differently.

Context is the way the message is delivered-the tone, expression in the sender’s eyes, body language, hand gestures, and state of emotion (anger, fear, uncertainty, confidence and so on). As we believe what we see more than what we hear, we trust the accuracy of nonverbal behavior more than verbal behavior. So when we communicate, the other person notices two things: What we say and how we say it.

Normally we think communication is complete once we have conveyed the message: “I don’t know why it was not done. I had asked him to do it.” Chances are that the message was not perceived properly. A message hasn’t been communicated successfully unless the receiver understands it completely. How do you know it has been properly received? By two-way communication or feedback.


Ourselves: Focusing on ourselves, rather than the other person can lead to confusion and conflict. Often, we are thinking about our response, rather than focusing on what the other person is saying. Some other factors that cause this are defensiveness (we feel someone is attacking us), superiority (we feel we know more than the other), and ego (we feel we are the center of the activity).

Perception: If we feel the person is talking too fast, not fluently or does not articulate clearly, we may dismiss the person. Our preconceived attitudes affect our ability to listen. We listen uncritically to persons of high status and dismiss those of low status.

Mental state: People don’t see things the same way when under stress. What we see and believe at a given moment is influenced by our psychological frames of references-beliefs, values, knowledge, experiences and goals.

These barriers are filters that we use to decide what is useful for us. No one can completely avoid these filters. If you start taking every information and message you get seriously, you would be overloaded with information. But if you are not consciously aware of this filtering process, you may lose a lot of valuable information. A way to overcome these filters when you want is through active listening and feedback.


All of us can hear, but all of us cannot listen. Hearing and listening are not the same thing. Hearing is involuntary and listening involves the reception and interpretation of what is heard. It decodes the sound heard into meaning. Does a knock on the door sound the same all the time? What if you are alone and you hear a knock at late night? What happens when you hear a knock while you are expecting someone whom you like?

People generally speak at 100 to 175 words per minute but we can listen intelligently at 600 to 800 words per minute. This means most of the time only a part of our mind is paying attention, it is easy for the attention to drift. This happens to all of us. The cure: active listening. This involves listening with a purpose. It may be to gain information, obtain directions, understand others, solve problems, share interests, see how the other person feels, even show support. This type of listening takes the same amount of or more energy than speaking. This requires the listener to hear various messages, understand the meaning and then verify the meaning by offering feedback. Here are some of the traits of an active listener:

• Does not finish the sentence of others.
• Does not answer questions with questions.
• Is aware of biases. We all have them… we need to control them.
• Never daydreams or becomes preoccupied with one’s own thoughts when others talk.
• Lets others talk.
• Does not dominate the conversation.
• Plans responses after the other persons have finished speaking, not while they are speaking.
• Provides feedback, but does not interrupt incessantly.
• Analyses by looking at all the relevant factors and asking open-ended questions.
• Keeps the conversation on what the speaker says…not on what interests them.
• Takes brief notes. This forces one to concentrate on what is being said.

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

The Assertive Leader

People can often use the word ‘assertive’ as a polite way of describing a person who exhibits aggressive behavior. This is understandable as the label of ‘aggressive’ is not something that we like to give to others. For example, it’s not uncommon to hear people say things like”… just be careful of Bryan, he’s… very assertive.” Well the truth is that if you have to be careful of Bryan it’s because he’s aggressive, not because of his assertiveness.

I make this point at the outset, because over the years of training people in advanced communication and leadership skills, it has become apparent that people often have a genuine misconception of what it means to be assertive. The best way to explain assertiveness is to put it in the context of both aggressiveness and submissiveness.

There are three distinct styles of relationships that we can choose to have;

  • Aggressive – Seeking to get your own needs met and rights honored at the expense of or without consideration for the other person’s needs and rights.
  • Submissive – The exact opposite of aggressive. Allowing the other person to get their needs/rights met at the expense of yours
  • Assertive – Seeking to get your needs/rights met in a way that doesn’t block the other person from meetings their needs and rights.

Assertiveness is non-judgmental, non-blameful and ensures that the relationship is maintained if not strengthened. Yes assertiveness is hard work.

Assertive skills are almost always part of any capability leadership framework for leadership development. To be assertive the leader must firstly know what their purpose is and what their needs are. Sometimes leaders neglect to realize that the organizations needs become their own needs – since they will be held accountable for meeting organizational goals and implementing policy and procedure.

To be assertive the leader needs to appropriately tell others about their thoughts and feelings and initiate action to get their needs met. As such, communicating and acting directly and honestly is essential to being effectively assertive. The key skill in communicating assertively is the effective use of “I” Messages.

“l-Messages” are very different from messages that contain a “You” component such as these:

  • “You stop it!”
  • “If you don’t stop, then… “
  • “What you should do is… “
  • “You need to… “
  • “You have to… or… “
  • “Why don’t you try this?”
  • “You are thoughtless!”
  • “You are just showing off.”
  • “Why would you do that!?”

The “You” part of these messages is likely to cause the receiver to interpret these messages as a judgmental, threatening or interfering. This is unlikely to influence the person to change. In fact it can cause the receiver to resist change more then before. Further to this it can escalate conflicts instead of helping to effectively manage them. You messages are risky, particularly in emotionally charged situations. They tend to have these unfortunate effects;

  • They make people feel guilty
  • People feel criticized, blamed or ‘put-down’
  • They often incite retaliation from the receiver
  • They can reduce a person’s self-esteem
  • They cause resistance to change
  • They may make people feel hurt, embarrassed

“You Messages” are not only damaging to relationships but they are actually very inaccurate messages. You messages come from our own paradigm, not that of the other person. When someone’s behavior is unacceptable to you, it is because it makes you worried, upset, disappointed, afraid, needful, or negatively affected in some other way – these feelings come from your own paradigm… and you own the problem. Therefore the most authentic and integral way of communicating your thoughts and feelings is with I Messages, or what I call “Authentic Messages” such as…

  • “I’m worried about… “
  • “I am upset… “
  • “I need your help with… because… “
  • “I will miss my deadline… “
  • “I will have to pay more… “
  • “I will have to put in more time… “
  • “I will lose sales… “
  • “I am disappointed… “
  • “I need more time… “
1 Comment Continue Reading →

Agile Awareness – opportunity for North India Chapter Members Only

Here is another opportunity for PMI North India Chapter to volunteer and contribute to community growth by participating in the following opportunities (PDU’s will also be awarded)

PMI India is planning a session on Agile awareness for a leading MNC, who is world’s leading provider of integrated mail and document management systems, services and solutions with multibillion dollar turnover.  The session is being planned to be organized sometime in July 2012, date for which will be finalized once the volunteers are shortlisted and vetted with the client. Requirement details for the volunteering opportunity are as under:


Session Details –


Date –                   July 2012

Session –             1 ½ hour (30 mins Q&A included)

Audience Profile

1.       Nos of PM’s – 15 to 20 approximately

2.       Exp – between 3 to 10 years

Topics –            Agile Awareness

Objective –        Value of Agile to business


North India Chapter is looking at working with folks from the chapter who are preferably ACP certified besides folks who have worked for last 1-2 years or above on Agile Project Management. You are requested to revert with your resumes to

1 Comment Continue Reading →