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Ready? Set? Go: Measuring Preparedness Before Starting The Project

Created on 22 September 2008 Written by Dennis Bolles
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Determining readiness is the last thing that is done just before work on the project begins to complete deliverables. Evaluating readiness also occurs on strategic projects between project phases, and at the end of the project. Performing readiness checks is similar to checking the car over before you start off on a long trip; it doesn’t keep bad things from happening, but it does provide some comfort and reduces the risk of things going wrong. Readiness checks are needed the most in the early stages of implementing a project management methodology. Once the organization’s project management capability has matured the initial readiness check could be reduced to periodic reviews as deemed necessary.

It usually takes a while for organizations to become acclimated to new business processes and comfortable to the point that some degree of proficiency is attained. Experience has shown me that implementing a project management methodology usually experiences some degree of resistance from project managers who feel concerned they might not “get it right” the first time or they just want to “get on with it,” believing readiness checks are an unnecessary waste of time. Some executives and department managers may also believe this process isn’t need and just slows the project down. A good way to counteract these forms of resistance is to point out that readiness checks are not performed to evaluate performance - there are no good or bad grades assigned. They are done to help the project team ensure it is properly prepared to achieve success before work begins, which will save time and money in the end.

It is preferable that the full project team, project customer representative, and project sponsor be present and participate in the readiness check. Having the customer and sponsor attend the readiness review communicates the importance of being prepared to everyone. The review process also provides another opportunity to validate customer requirements and expectations have been communicated and are clearly understood by the project team.

Additional project reviews are held between project phases, referred to as gate reviews, on larger strategic projects. The customers’ representative, project sponsor, project manager and team members are involved in these reviews as well. The purpose of gate reviews is to have the project team present the current status of the project, report on deliverables made to date (if any) and establish that the project is on track to achieve its objectives and goals as stated at the start. This review also identifies what work and deliverables will be accomplished during the next phase of the project.

Post project reviews are critical to the continued improvement and growth of project management practices within any organization. Unfortunately they do not occur as often as they should, with “not enough time” or “the next project is already started” the common excuse. Post project review meetings are as critical as readiness reviews before the project begins. Establishing project management best practices cannot be done without incorporating lessons learned to improve the methodology, processes, procedures, tools and templates. These improvements will not be identified if a formal process isn’t followed to ensure they are documented. Continuous improvement programs are based on formal reviews. Whether the project is deemed to have been a success or not, the post project review can provide all the project participants an opportunity to learn from what worked well and what did not.

The saying goes “we never have time to do it right the first time, but always have time to do it over.” Project readiness reviews make sure the team will get it right the first time, and that it stays on track. In some cases, the project is cancelled before it consumes too many wasted resources if it is determined to be the best choice. Effective project management begins and ends with processes that ensure continued improvement and growth, without them the organization will take longer to mature.  

About the author:

 
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Dennis Bolles has more than 30 years experience with business and project management in multiple industries. His primary focus over the past 15 years has been advising organizations on methodology development, governance and corporate strategy. He led a virtual project team of 300 volunteers world-wide to a successful completion and on-time delivery of the PMI ANSI Standard PMBOK® Guide Third Edition in 2004. He is a published author of many project management articles, seminars, and two books entitled "Building Project Management Centers of Excellence" and "The Power of Enterprise-Wide Project Management". See his full profile on LinkedIn and invite him to join your network. 
Last Updated on 31 July 2012
 

Global organisations must support global project teams

Created on 12 August 2007 Written by Jean Binder
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Image © Joy Prescott | Dreamstime.comProgram managers, project managers and project office members alone cannot improve the effectiveness of global projects. Global organisations must adapt their processes, policies and procedures to cope with the new challenges faced by international project teams. Senior executives must adapt their leadership styles and act as role models for the implementation of new methods and tools.

 

The chapter 14 of the “Global Project Management” book suggests that global organisations should build an emotional intelligence culture, promote work-life balance for employees around the globe, value the employees independently of their locations, promote the use of collaborative tools and methods, develop a global project management methodology and establish international performance appraisal systems, reward policies and training schemes.

 

One innovative concept presented in this chapter is the global 360-degree feedback system (360G performance appraisal©), which requests that project coordinators, other team members, customers and senior managers from different countries provide recommendations for improvement on communication and leadership skills over distance and across cultures. The 360G performance appraisal© evaluates the employees from different angles and detects points for improvement on the skills and techniques discussed in the Global Project Management Framework. 

 

Last Updated on 31 July 2012
 

Ready to go global?

Created on 07 May 2008 Written by Karina Jensen
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It’s time to go global. With ticket and passport in hand, you’re ready to evangelize the world about your mission. The global launch project has been approved and your team is onboard. There’s just one challenge – you only have one strategy for multiple countries. The regions are following different travel plans, communication and teamwork is not translating well across borders, and the project management process didn’t pass local customs inspection. How are you going to think global yet go local?

Yes, you might work for a global company but are you globally aligned? Do the local offices and teams within the Americas, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific have equal access to the plan, structure, and process? Whether you’re planning an initiative, developing communication programs to employees and customers, or implementing a project management process, local offices and teams will need to participate on a level playing field. Can you ensure global and local access, participation, and support?

In a recent survey, Global Minds Network found that understanding and support of global strategy, team roles, and participation were some of the key challenges faced by organizations when launching and managing global programs, products, and services. Awareness and responsiveness to local planning, communication, and training needs were critical factors in successful global execution.

Companies who shared their lessons cited planning, organizational alignment, effective project management, and timely product delivery among the challenges that threatened product launch success. Causes included the lack of a global plan, an inefficient process, and poor communication and teamwork across functions and regions.

Whether you’re launching products or introducing change initiatives, you need to depend on the efficiency of your infrastructure and the alignment of your teams to deliver business results. The challenge is to achieve and sustain readiness around the world. The talk does not stop at HQ, it needs to make headlines and start dynamic conversations that extend to offices and regions worldwide.

Global project success is dependent upon your internal infrastructure and the ability to coordinate a centralized strategy with local execution. This is determined by the ability to build a framework and process where you can leverage internal team knowledge, manage project flow, and effectively deliver on time and on budget in every part of the world. Not a small task!

Are you ready to go global and local? Whether you’re developing or re-evaluating new initiatives, determine your global readiness through three simple questions:

1) Does the plan and process address global and local needs?
2) Are teams aligned across functions and regions?
3) Is the field ready to deliver, market, and sell in every international location?

What’s your global readiness quotient? Take a test drive and see if you’re ready for the challenge. In the next weeks, join us on this worldwide project management tour where you’ll learn about the five top cultural pitfalls and lessons learned.

What’s your global readiness challenge? Share your thoughts with us in our forum or visit Global Minds Network.

 

About the author:

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Karina Jensen is an international management consultant, instructor and facilitator with nearly 20 years of experience in launching business and education initiatives across cultures. She is the founder and principal of Global Minds Network, a consulting firm that facilitates global market success through effective planning and execution solutions. Click here to see her full profile in LinkedIn.

Last Updated on 31 July 2012
 

Offshoring Secrets: Institution building

Created on 31 May 2008 Written by Utkarsh Rai
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The intention to build an institution should be there from day one. A culture that is setup for a small team needs to withstand the test of time, when the team size grows year after year. Similarly, formulating and setting up the company policies is important because once the organization is big, it should retain its original allowing for only a few changes as it grows.

 

In terms of policies, it is important that policies should be set keeping the various government regulations in mind. A legal team should review policies thoroughly in order to ensure that one is compliant. A good knowledge is required of generally acceptable practices prevalent in the industry.

The first step towards setting up policy is to publish an employee handbook with a clear set of guidelines. Establish policies and practices in the very beginning, so that everyone can apply a uniform set of policies. This will avoid making decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Generally, management does not pay attention to this when the company is small. Everyone knows each other and they enjoy flexibility in having individual-based decisions, "one-off" type of waivers, situational incentives and many tactical or on the spot decisions. As the company starts growing, some of them will quote precedence; some will get situational benefits and some will not. This will poison the teamwork, as there will be haves and have-nots. There will even be disparity on the level of benefits enjoyed by many. The "compare and contrast" culture will come into picture, resulting in lack of happiness in the whole organization. This situation will trigger an employee handbook. Now, employees will complain about benefits, which they used to enjoy, but now withdrawn. As a result, employees will feel that the company does not care for them. Balancing employee's expectations together with forceful but fair implementation of policies will become a Herculean task.

The management needs to ensure that managerial discretions should be an exception, rather than a practice. This helps in spreading the feeling of fairness in implementing the policies and practices. In the Appendix C of the "offshoring secrets" book you can find important policies required for institution building. It is important to put the right focus on these policies that have more India centric practices, which might be new to many people in the parent organizations.

About the author:

 Utkarsh Rai

  Mr. Utkarsh Rai is the Author of "Offshoring secrets" and the Head of India operations of Infinera (NASDAQ: INFN) for over 5 years by building and successfully running the operation in Bangalore, India. His leadership style is "Lead by example", "build and retain a highly performing team", and "flawless execution". This has always helped him in achieving the right goals by building products from V1.0 onwards.

Click here to buy his book from Amazon "Offshoring Secrets: Building and Running a Successful India Operation"

Click here to see his profile on LinkedIn.

Last Updated on 31 July 2012
 

Offshoring Secrets: Having fun

Created on 11 June 2008 Written by Utkarsh Rai
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No work environment can be successful without having some recreational activities. Some office facilities do provide recreational activities. One can have a wide variety of activities at the company or team level. These activities can be for the employees and sometimes for their families too. One should avoid arranging boring parties done for the sake of having one. These parties are monotonous and marked with long speeches followed by dinner or lunch, which leave no room for people to interact and strengthen their team spirits.

Parties should have some team building exercises too. The fundamental benefit that one receives is to interact well with other team members providing an opportunity to smoothen the relationships, which might have strained during the heat of product development. Both employees and their families remember a good party. Attendance in these parties will also increase. Occasionally, the employees can also go out for an afternoon or late evening event in small teams. It is also advisable to avoid any award ceremony at events where family is present, as it will be difficult to answer one's kid or spouse on why he or she did not get the award while a few others did.

About the author:

 Utkarsh Rai

  Mr. Utkarsh Rai is the Author of "Offshoring secrets" and the Head of India operations of Infinera (NASDAQ: INFN) for over 5 years by building and successfully running the operation in Bangalore, India. His leadership style is "Lead by example", "build and retain a highly performing team", and "flawless execution". This has always helped him in achieving the right goals by building products from V1.0 onwards.

Click here to buy his book from Amazon "Offshoring Secrets: Building and Running a Successful India Operation"

Click here to see his profile on LinkedIn.

Last Updated on 31 July 2012
 
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