Project Communication Strategies Need to Be Planned in Advance


Last week, I introduced my blog on managing project stakeholders with a story about a struggling project that went awry because of stakeholder management problems. One major reason the project struggled was lack of communication. The team had failed to think through a project communication strategy. And while I am using the term stakeholders, we can't forget that real people, with real feelings, thoughts, interests, strengths, and weaknesses are behind the term.

How will you keep those people informed? Developing project communication strategies early in a project is key. We have so many different ways to communicate now that it has gotten increasingly harder to do so. Email, websites, social media channels, snail mail, newsletters, telephones, chatbots, and collaboration software tools all offer opportunities, but you can’t do it all. Does having more communication channels make it easier or harder to communicate effectively? More and more, I find that people are exhausted by the various communication choices. And social media doesn’t help.

We have to remember that saying something (in whichever medium) is not the same thing as effectively communicating something. People often hear something very different from what we say. We need to ensure the correct message is heard.

Continue reading

Managing Project Stakeholders Requires Leadership

managing project stakeholders

Some years ago, I was peripherally involved in a community project. A non-profit in town was adding a substantial building on their large campus. Early on in the construction, neighbors started complaining because of parking inconveniences. Then, power problems started impacting a small group of neighbors. Scope creep gradually started as deficiencies in some older structures on the site began to surface. Fighting between volunteers on the community board ensued, as limited resources were being stretched, and programs had to be limited. It was clear to me that many of the problems on that project related to some inattention to managing project stakeholders.

When I hear or read about other project failures, they are often connected to inadequacies in managing project stakeholders. Often, it seems that stakeholder management is an afterthought. And for all of the improvements that we are making in technology, we still operate in a world where people do the projects.

I wrote about how blockchain might improve stakeholder management several weeks ago. In this blog, I want to talk about how managing project stakeholders requires leadership, and what organizations can do to improve. We need leaders with high emotional intelligence. We need people who will stand up for what is right and who aren’t afraid to ask why. Project managers need to be able to coach their teams, rather than swinging their perceived power around like a bully stick.

In this blog, I will outline some specific actions that team members and project managers can take, and how that relates to leadership. The temperament of the people on your teams is really critical. Bullies are not valuable team players.

Bullies are not valuable team players. Click To Tweet

Continue reading

Projects Aligned With Corporate Strategy Boost Results


Are all of your projects aligned with corporate strategy? Do you even know what your corporate strategy is? Believe it or not, knowing your corporate strategy is crucial to the success of your projects. It helps when selecting projects (because every project you spend time and money on should ultimately be aligned with your corporate strategy.) It also helps to identify how you will measure the success of those projects, and for how long you will measure the benefits.

Keeping projects aligned with corporate strategy is one of the most important items for business executives. Click To Tweet

Continue reading

Could Blockchain Technology Improve Project Stakeholder Management?


Seasoned project managers know that project stakeholder management is one of the greatest challenges we face. And a big part of stakeholder management is the communications piece. There is actually a formula that will tell us how many different lines of communication exist on your project, depending on how large the project is. Using that formula, a small project with only 4 stakeholders has 6 lines of communication. That’s pretty reasonable, IF you have truly identified all of your stakeholders.

If you have 10 stakeholders, the number of communication lines increases to 45, which can create a problem. But suppose you are working on a moderate project – with 50 people who have a significant interest in the work. The number of channels grows to 1225. Now we have one person who is doing nothing but managing communications - and that’s on a moderate project. Take it up a notch and consider a project with 100 stakeholders. 4,950 communication lines!! Whoa jack!!

Last week, I wrote the second of a three-part series on the intersection of project management and blockchain. If you missed it, you might check it out here. In this blog, I'll discuss some ways that blockchain technology could be used to improve project stakeholder management.

Continue reading

Three Secrets to Project Success (Hint: Blockchain)

Blockchain Project Success

Last week, I published a blog on blockchain technology and asked whether blockchain could improve project success. To answer that question, we need to consider what the success factors are in project management and how blockchain technology impacts those factors.

If you Google project success factors, you are likely to find the following: clearly defined scope, effective communications, skilled project manager, effective methodology, availability of expert resources, access to funding, executive support, good leadership, and sound risk management. I don’t argue that all of these factors are important.

But have we been analyzing the problem or merely examining symptoms of the problem? I would argue that we need to dig a bit more and ask ourselves why communications are often so ineffective, why the methodologies don’t seem to work very well, or why scope definition and control can both be so difficult.

Continue reading

Could Blockchain Technology Improve Project Success?


It’s hard to hear or read the news of the world without seeing the word Russians. Put aside your politics for a few minutes, and admit it. There are some very smart people in Russia. It is not a country of dullards. So, I perked up last year when VEB, a Russian government owned bank, announced that it was building a project management tool using blockchain technology.

According to VEB chairperson, Sergey Gorkov, as quoted on Coin Telegraph: "When we started to think about how to manage projects efficiently, we realized that there is no platform. We realized that the Blockchain is a good fundamental and qualitative platform for the future."

Absolutely stunning news! I’ve been fascinated by blockchain and how it might be applied to project management for several years. Could blockchain technology improve project success?

Continue reading

The Key to Improving Your Productivity


Happy New Year!!

Is productivity on your mind as you enter into the new year?

I walked into the office ready to start my daily standing meeting and spend most of the day working on content for a big marketing campaign. I knew that the executive director had a big meeting that morning that she was worried about but we hadn’t discussed it much.

My day already included a business lunch with a colleague, several video chat appointments, and a one-hour break away from the office to take a close friend to the airport. The current projects at this company include a few small renovations and a website redesign.

Before I could even start the morning meeting, an admin called the office in tears. She got a call from her sister that her elderly father was really sick and was on her way to his house to meet her sister and see what was up.

Continue reading

Happy Holidays!

Time to spend time with family and friends as we close the book on 2017. Thank you to all of my readers! From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!

Are Cranky People Destroying Your Team?


I was talking with a woman who works for a startup software company. She’s exhausted, overwhelmed, and about ready to quit. And yet, she loves what she’s doing. The startup has been amazing at communicating its ‘why' but the production expectation is very high. She’s working ridiculous hours, taking the problems home with her, and is not spending time with her children and husband. She admits that she, and others on the team, are getting cranky.

This young company has about 1000 businesses using its software, at various levels of commitment. For many reasons, some of the users are frustrated and complaining. When tons of customer complaints are coming through, it's hard to prioritize. She seemed surprised when I suggested that she should pay attention to the ones who complained the most viciously.

Continue reading

Are You Falling For These Project Management Myths?


What do you think you know about project management? As people age, we often realize that the beliefs that we held when we were younger are no longer true. Things change. We grow. Technology advances. So are the beliefs that you’ve held for years about project management necessarily true? Are people today falling for project management myths that are simply flawed?

I was having lunch with another project manager recently and we were discussing the difference between the way seasoned project managers see their role, and the way younger people without much experience see project management as a discipline.

Many young people leading projects today have a completely different mindset. They may be on to something important. Consider the teams of young people who get together and work on a project, with no planning or schedule, and get it done in a weekend. Maybe there is something we can learn from these product launch weekends.

Regardless of the changing nature of project management and the different approaches, there are some dangerous project management myths project managers should avoid falling for. In my experience project managers who tend to fall for some of the most common myths are in two major categories: either a large, bureaucratic background, or a smaller, leaner background. Regardless of whether you fall into these two categories, make sure you're not falling for these common project management myths.

Continue reading