PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING FOR A NEW AGE

In my last post I talked about how the job of project management has evolved into one that requires project managers to use their influencing and persuasion skills to obtain resources for their projects. And with this change comes a requirement for training to provide managers with those additional skills.

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ARE YOU “OUTSIDE THE UNIVERSE”?

One of the biggest takeaways I brought back from the AGMS was the concept that there are people who are ‘outside the universe’. These are usually people who choose to work long term on contracts; or employees who think it is solely their employer’s obligation to provide their development. They don’t engage with their own career; and miss the fact that the world moves on without them. They are still employed but each contract gets harder to find, their rate (both in real and perceived terms) reduces and their bewilderment increases. It’s sad to see these people grasping at diminishing opportunities; opportunities that diminish further as they try to do things the old way, relying on the approaches, skills and methods that used to work.

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ANDREW, THE PROJECT… AND HIS CAREER

Almost two years ago, Andrew was a senior executive in a large organisation here in Sydney.

Every day he went to work braced for trouble, bad news and budget overruns on the major project he was sponsoring. Andrew knew his career was in trouble as he didn’t feel quite as comfortable around the other execs and the top level guys.

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DEFINING PRINCIPLES

There’s a theme developing here – and it’s interesting (to me) that deans of the biggest management/business schools are concerned with this stuff. Interesting in a good way.

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2013 INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE ASSOCIATION OF GLOBAL MANAGEMENT STUDIES

I’ve been attending the 2013 International Conference of the AGMS at the University of California in Berkeley. Some really interesting ‘stuff’… And some really interesting people! There was no shortage of Deans from business schools around the world – an impressive bunch from schools across the US, Europe and Asia, although I did notice that an Oz contingent was missing.
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THE LATEST ON PMBOK

PMBOK 5th Edition is out. You know I’m a PM tragic (and I hope you are too as it’s important to keep up and on top of what we are doing and the expert field in which we operate). I’d like to think that you were waiting for the Jan release of PMBOK, but I suspect you’ve had other things on your mind. I still think it’s a good idea to get a copy though – I can’t tell you how important I think it is to keep up to date.

However, I live in the real world so I’ve taken the liberty of reading it (yes – while I was on leave and it’s in the category of being at the front of the field) and decided to send you a few snippets. At least you’ll be able to talk about it knowledgeably if anyone asks.

Basically, the book is a lot thicker (an indication that either there is a lot more to say; there was a lot of clarification needed following the last edition; or they’ve found a way to complicate stuff and that always takes up more space to write).

On reading, there isn’t much to worry about, the basics are all there and any changes are mostly minor ones.

The most noticeable change is the addition of a 10th knowledge area. For those of you who are interested, the 9th knowledge area – ‘integration’ – was an Australian inclusion which I can tell you about if you are interested. Now ‘stakeholder management’ has been included. I confess I rolled my eyes because if projects aren’t about stakeholder management the rest is just admin. Anyway, I digress.

The new section, Chapter 13, does what all the chapters do. It describes the knowledge area, breaks it down into components, suggests inputs and outputs and basically provides a framework which isn’t bad.

I found a few things interesting (when you read it you may well find more or different things interesting).

1. It includes four (4) versions of stakeholder identification models….. well it lists them and gives a generic example of one. The models are all good but there is no guidance as to how to slot stakeholders into each model..I found that frustrating and went googling for more detail but it is sparse – I’ve started to work some of that out and will send it through as I get there.

(a) one of the models (salience) sounded very interesting but (and perhaps I’m not very bright) I found the explanations and diagrams I could find on the web a little less than clear – so I am starting again and will share that with you as well.

2. There is a further section in the engagement levels of the stakeholders – they provide 5 but I think there needs to be a sixth…… more on that soon too.

3. My favourite which I arrived at with enthusiasm is the new section 13.2.2.2 (yes it’s very heavy on subbing the paras) Interpersonal skills. There are four dot points explaining why you need them…. to

(a) build trust
(b) resolve conflict
(c) active listening
(d) overcome resistance to change
(perhaps you can spot the problem with the list – but I digress).

That’s it! no explanation, guidance etc. Perhaps….. oh dear, nope, I’ve got nothing.

4. Then there is the section that suggests the value of monitoring stakeholder engagement – a worthy suggestion – addressed with the further suggestion of adjusting your strategies…… sigh…… for a fleeting moment I had hoped for a ‘how to’.

I went away from my reading a bit despondent – I needed more. Then I hit on the idea that the PMBOK is like a filing cabinet with all the folders in place (though for mine I’d move stakeholder stuff to the front not just add it at the end, but no matter) and space for the content (would have been better with some hints about where to get the content but we are smart and will work it out).

I’ll be back soon with some of my interpretations of what is suggested and with some meat on them so you can put them in the folder and actually use them.

In the meantime, and as a teaser, when you are considering stakeholders think about the following elements:

Power: does the person have the power to influence the project deliverables or the organization (legitimate or personal)
Legitimacy: do they have the right by position or influence to impact the project.
Urgency: do they have the ability through whatever means to change the priorities of the project or other stakeholders?

As I said just a teaser.

WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY IS IT?

Good morning, another beautiful morning here in Sydney and I hope you’ve had a good weekend.

Over the weekend, my mind was vexed by a question. I put it to an AICD Group and it has generated some interesting comments, so I thought I’d ask you and see if you have any input. To my mind it’s a big question, sometimes asked over coffee when no one is listening and rarely with a clear answer. And so…

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MANAGING STAKEHOLDERS USING THE RACI MODEL

The following guide to using the RACI model was prepared by John Elsworth, a project manager with many years experience delivering in Finance and Banking, Biomedical and transport industries. It took RNC 5 years to convince him to join us and we are very glad that he has worked with us now for 5 years….

Managing stakeholders is vital to the success of a project and one of the most challenging aspects of project management. Have you ever been looking for a single project tool that would help with stakeholder management; the communications plan; developing peoples’ roles and responsibilities; and, creating project delegation authorities?

The RACI model can be a valuable input to these elements of planning particularly in the early stage of the project when you are writing your initial version of the PMP. This stage of a project can be very confusing when you are juggling so many stakeholders & project members. In our line of work as contract PMs we are typically just getting to know everyone too.

Of course, like all elements of planning, the RACI should be an interactive process and updated as appropriate to the project needs.

People who participate in creating/updating the RACI model enjoy it as they get a lot out of it and it can be fun & thought-provoking.

The RACI is an effective communications tool because stakeholders and team members find it intuitive and easy to digest.

So, how does a RACI work? The output is a matrix of responsibilities of all the stakeholders and members of the project team. Their job titles are assigned a letter depending on their role in the project. RACI is an acronym and the letters represent the level of participation in the project –

R is for Responsible (the do-er of the activity)
A is for Accountable (the buck stops here)
C is for Consulted (typically an important stakeholder or a subject matter expert)
I is for Informed (someone who needs to know … or wants to know but they are not an active participation in this particular activity)

The matrix should have the project participants’ role title on the horizontal axis and the project duties/activities on the vertical axis. The letter of the RACI which best represents their roles & responsibilities are allocated and placed in the appropriate cell co-ordinates.

The RACI matrix can become a great friend to a Project Manager. Project planning can be time-consuming and complex. The RACI matrix helps dissect information into simple, bite-size chunks.

Let’s look at a quick example. The hypothetical project is the design and manufacture of a new hybrid car which must have regulatory approval from the government.

It is advisable to highlight the cells where the “A” and the “R” appears as these are the most important. Also, it is helpful to make it visually appealing so it stands out for the reader above the other noise they encounter during their work day. For the PM, the colour coding helps with quality assurance, e.g’s. there should be only one “A” allocated in every row; &, the “R’s” should be well distributed across the stakeholders/team-members.

Please note:
i. Once drafted, the matrix should be placed on formal review.
ii. Note that the RACI can include external as well as internal parties. In this example reference to the Regulatory Authority is an external organisation.
iii. Logically in the hierarchy, the A is the highest followed by (in order) the R, the C, and the I. Will leave it to you to spell that out!

After syndicating/agreeing the RACI with stakeholders, the project manager has so much information they need to work out the “who”, “what”, “how’s” and ”when” for the elements of the project planning mentioned above.

There are a number of variations of the RACI model and these can be applied according to the nature of the project –

  • RASCI model – includes provision for a support function
  • RACI-VS – includes 2 participation types for verification and support
  • CAIRO – uses “O” for omitted
  • DACI – where “D” represents the driver of the project activity

Anecdotal story
I once distributed my draft RACI and got feedback from a stakeholder that he wanted to have a “C” (consulted) against all the project activities. Indeed he was an electrical engineer and wanted to be consulted on all the other engineering disciplines as well! Nevertheless the RACI was a great basis for a constructive conversation with this person and I learnt a lot about him at the same time, which was useful as the project matured.

Further Reading
Project Management Institute: PMBOK Guide, Edition 4 –
http://www.pmi.org/PMBOK-Guide-and-Standards.aspx

Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsibility_assignment_matrix

Project Management Essentials – http://projectmanagementessentials.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/nn-12-formula-for-number-of-communication-channels/

We’d like to hear from you. If you use the RACI model, post a comment or send us your feedback.

POWER… INFLUENCE… GAUTREY

‘Power’ and ‘Influence’ are two words you will constantly hear if you are seeking to find the path to successful corporate leadership. They’re not lightweight terms, as the timeline of human history has shown. So, learning how to properly use power and influence is most likely to be one of the keys to finding the right path to success.
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LEARN FROM YOUR FEEDBACK

I love it when people send in feedback and yes, I am reading it all. The feedback I received below came from a client who was commenting on their PMO (not an RNC PMO).
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