Hello Again! While I diverted the last week to share a great blog from PapercutPM, I will return to my series on the Project Management Framework (PMF). For the veteran PMs out there, I know you have your own approach on this and I would love to hear from you. As for the ‘accidental’ or newbie PMs out there, I hope you are getting a good understanding of the various phases and components of Project Management. This week I will cover the Execution Phase and what I feel are some of the key aspects at this stage of your project. As usual, I have included a video to get you in the mood for our topic. So take a few minutes (1:20 to be exact) to watch it and then we’ll get started below… (Bonus…a song for you to listen to as you think about procrastination and execution)
Organizations spend an enormous amount of time & money on their market analysis, R&D, etc to establish their strategy (at least they should) and the Project Manager spends an enormous time locking down the requirements, understanding the stakeholders, and developing a project plan. The vision is set, the team is in agreement with the action plans, there is a kick-off to generate interest and then out of the gate like a heard of turtles! What happened?
Project Managers time is usually front loaded, scales down, and then picks up again towards the end of the project. During execution, we should be able to track progress, monitor risks, provide executive updates, and so on. Even more importantly, this is a time we should be able to develop team members, further the relationships, continue to champion/socialize the project throughout the organization, and be the leader of the project team. Unfortunately, we are often caught with creating various charts that prove little value and putting out fires from the unknown factors. I have posted about the importance of a solid Project Charter and provided some of the key elements (scale as needed) and I have also posted on the important of Risk Management and Team Building in the Planning Phase, but that can all be thrown away if you do not effectively manage, support, monitor, and communicate with the project team(internally) and about the project status (externally). Below are some of the key points I feel are needed to capitalize on the efforts during the Initiation and Planning phases of the project…
Motivation – The video & ‘bonus song’ (hope you enjoyed them) were based on the issue of procrastination. In today’s overburdened workforce, people are just trying to make it through today. They consistently are making trade-offs with the personal and professional schedules. You have to be an engaged leader. During your project one and ones, make sure you asking the team members about their pushes and pulls…how is the project prioritized in their workload…can you help with anything…how is work effected their life…and again, can you help support them in anyway. Being engaged, letting your team know you are there for them and recognize their challenges will go a long way to getting your project moved up on their priority list. Bas De Baar also has a great post on 25 sure-fire ways to motivate your teams – check it out here
Communicate – Internal to the project team, you need to communicate quickly and effectively with your team. This may be one of the quickest ways to lose credibility with your team and their focus. If they feel as though they are in the dark or the last to know everything, they will begin to shut down and progress will slow. As for external communication (clients, executives, sponsor, etc), you should have a project status template that you use for their update. Do not wing it! By providing a consistent status update, your external audience will know what to expect and grow a trust in your thoroughness and consistency. This trust will keep them off your back and prevent them from creating busy work (additional reports/data) for you. Some key elements of your status report should include are:
- Project Schedule…is the project on track and what are the recent wins and next week/month tasks
- Project Funding…is the spending on track?
- Project Risks…Are any potential risks close to happening or have had happened? If so, has the Risk Plan been enacted?
- Change Requests…Have any new changes been requested? Have past approvals been implemented?
If you have a solid plan and did your work up front, then I am a firm believer that your people will produce if you keep them motivated and make them feel a part of the process. Maybe it is the John Maxwell theory of great leaders have influence, but in my experience this is what works. Your team will respect you, trust you, and WANT to do their best. Your stakeholders will also trust you, which frees your time to motivate and communicate with your team.
I hope you have been able to get something out of the posts here at Kelly’s Contemplation…at minimum enjoyed some of the videos and found some great resources via the links provided. I encourage you to join the conversation…share your experiences on a topic or suggest a topic you would like me to post on. Until next time…have a great day!
There are some tremendous links below for Project Communications and Templates for status reports, I hope you enjoy them:
- Performance Reporting at PM HUT
- Delivery Methods – How to Deliver Project Status at Project Smart
- Status Report Template at State of Texas Dept of Information resources
- At-a-Glance Weekly Project Status Report at GanttHead.com