Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How to Select a Great Project Team and Increase Project Success

The wrong team can create havoc on getting your project completed successfully, causing delays, missed milestones and budget problems. Just think about it…without knowing that your team members have the right competency requirements for the project role that they assigned to, how can you guarantee success?

We can help you solve this problem.
After years of research and working with thousands of project teams, we’ve developed Project Management Competencies Assessments. These Assessments will help you to select people with the right competencies for both their project role and the project’s requirements…so you’ll be able to select a project team with the right skills to manage your project successfully.

Learn more
Go to http://www.bia.ca/products.htm#pmca for more information about this innovative new assessment tool that’s available from Business Improvement Architects.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Operational Effectiveness Leaders

We all work to live. We don't live to work.

All the choices we make in our life are just that - our choices. no one makes these for us. We search for the guilty, blame the innocent and execute others for our own bad decisions.

Leadership is about leading - not doing.

Vision and strategies are not dictated. They are developed collaboratively. How else is it possible to create an operationally effective team that has a shared, common understanding and commitment to the future. One that has a clear direction on how to get there. That is what Operational Effective Leadership is all about.

Do you create your department's/branch's/group's/organization's vision and strategies? Or - do you engage the entire group to do this collaboratively. Though in the first instance, as leaders, we always insist that the final result was because of input from our team - this is not at all the same. The final will still be yours - not everyones. You have a choice. Make the choice of working collaboratively with your group. It will be more engaging, energizing and the result will be more powerful than anything you could have ever imagined before.

Let me know if you are unclear on how to proceed and I'd be happy to guide you through the process. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I'm Tired of the Recession - Are You?

We've been in recessions before. Do you know which one is the worst? Well of course it is this one. But why is this one the worst? Because it's the only one where the future is uncertain.

You see, all of the other recessions that we have experienced in our lifetimes don't look bad now. However, think back to how you felt in the middle of them. With rising interest rates or oil prices or inflation or any combination of these. When asked the same question, during these "other" recessions, everyone said that the worst one they'd ever experienced was the one they were in at the moment. But when we reflect back, they don't seem so bad.

20% of economics are driven by reality. The other 80% is driven by perception. So, when we're asked to cut our salaries, our benefits, take time off without pay, etc., it is only based on the perception of these organizations of what will be - not what will actually occur. They don't know. The future is unknown.

It is our attitude that will bring us the quickest change - to help us to move on. I'm tired of this recession - aren't you?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Returned from National Speakers Association. Received Global Speaking Network Certified Speaking Professional designation. Only 600 worldwide been awarded

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Use Innovation to Move Forward

Our future depends on nurturing creativity and intelligence rather than protecting the past. In these times of transition, there are opportunities for each of us to use our full creative talents to expand our businesses and industries for the future. In crises like these, nations, regions, cities and states can rapidly change ground; they can improve or lose position, depending on the actions they take.

This should be a time for renewed optimism as we move forward. New periods in our history always bring us new challenges. But they can also bring us new opportunities. Use innovation to move forward. Pessimism is a great killer. Optimism is the only attitude that can bring you through.

At Business Improvement Architects, we have found that this economy has spurned us on to become even more innovative. We are working hard to launch some exciting new products that will make a difference for our customers and for us. Rather than dwell on lost business or decreased sales, we are using this time to be productive, creative and innovative. Watch for one new product launch this coming Fall!

What are you doing to survive?

Friday, June 12, 2009

I have just returned from Croatia. I was a keynote speaker at the European Organization for Quality's conference. My topic was "Innovation in a Time of Transition".

My two weeks in Croatia were incredible. What a beautiful country and great people. Everything was perfect. It is interesting how much they have been able to accomplish in re-building their country after the recent wars.

When I think about Innovation today, in this most interesting of times I come to this conclusion. This is based on substantial research and practical experience in this arena.

Helping your organization to achieve more innovations, to create the culture to support innovative thinking and to adopt a process for innovations is a major undertaking. It can seem daunting to know where to begin. However, the most important first step is just that – to take that first step. It is a large and exciting change process. Even a small initiative can help to demonstrate the possibilities of a more robust effort.

Our future depends on nurturing creativity and intelligence rather than protecting the past by bailing out struggling manufacturers. In our time of Transition, there are opportunities for each of us to use our full creative talents to expand our businesses and industries for the future. In crises like these, nations, regions, cities and states can rapidly change ground; they can improve or lose position, depending on the actions they take.

This should be a time for renewed optimism as we move forward. It is a new period in our history and that always bring with it challenges. But it also brings with it new opportunities. Use innovation to move forward. Pessimism is a great killer. Optimism is the only attitude that can bring you through. I know in our firm, Business Improvement Architects, we have been affected by the economy so rather than hide away we are using our resources and money to develop new products and services. This economy has spurned us on to become more innovative. I am hopeful that this will make a difference. I know it will for you to.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Certified Speaking Professional Designation

Hello Everyone,

I have just completed the last stage in the long certification process towards acquiring my CSP. Notification just came that I am sucessful in earning the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation. Established in 1980, the CSP is the speaking profession’s international measure of speaking experience and skill. Fewer than 10 percent of the speakers who belong to the International Federation for Professional Speakers hold this professional designation.

The CSP designation is conferred by the National Speakers Association (NSA) and the International Federation of Professional Speakers (IFPS) only on accomplished professional speakers who have earned it by meeting strict criteria. CSPs must document a proven track record of continuing speaking experience and expertise as well as a commitment to ongoing education, outstanding client service and ethical behaviour. I am one of 30 professionals to earn the CSP in the class of 2009 and will be honoured during a ceremony on July 19th at the 2009 NSA Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.

I am grateful to all of you have continued to support and encourage me through the process and I look forward to continuing our connections.

All the best,

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Stop Wasting Money on Bad Project Management

In these times of transition we are astounded at how many organizations continue to waste money on badly managed projects. In the past several months we have been asked to do some preliminary investigation on multi-million dollar projects. In each case they are considerably over-budget (in one case it is now $40 million USD). Our recommended action is to undergo an in-depth project health check/audit. Usually completed in several weeks, they deliver powerful recommendations based on the root causes of the problems. They include an implementation plan on how to immediately the recommendations to get the project back on track. In our experience, within a couple of months, the losses will stop and the projects will be moving in the right direction.

Here's the dilemma. The project leaders, directors and even some CEOs are concerned that this project health check/audit will be;
•A witch hunt
•Looking for blame and excuses
•Looking for scapegoats or victims
•An intrusion by the Project Management Office
•A mechanism for punishing the project manager and other resources for not following quality project management processes
•A way to strike fear into the heart of the project manager

So they often choose to hire a technical expert. For example, an engineer or network specialist, etc. in the hopes that throwing more money at the projects will turn them around. Then we do another quick analysis and the project's are usually worse than before. Our recommendation remains the same as before. We don't know what to do unless we can conduct a health check/audit in order to identify the problems.

On one recent project I asked the CEO: "If the project is over-budget by about 40 million, are you willing to invest less than 0.25% of this to do a health check that will probably save you millions?"

The response was depressing. They agreed but have still deferred their decision. In conversations with other members of the executive it became clear that there was concern on the part of the CEO that we might find something that will lead directly to him. Although we can never be certain whether or not this will be true, the intent of an audit is not to look for blame or excuses. Rather, it is designed to identify the root causes of the problems which have led to the current situation and to provide recommendations on how to get the project moving back in the right direction.

Don't make the same mistakes. Project health checks/audits will provide you with great benefits. Get rid of the fear and move toward the opportunities.

All the best,

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Refocus Your PMO - Part V

3.Manage the resourcing across all projects

The resourcing of projects continues to be a top priority of management and a significant barrier for PMOs in achieving their mandate. Management are not “on board” because they are uncertain what the resources are doing and why. They often perceive that work on projects is an intrusion to their employee’s daily work requirements.

An important role of the PMO is to ensure that all project managers know how to develop a detailed project plan which clearly identifies all of the tasks to be done and the name(s) of the resources that will be responsible for doing them. These project plans should be input into project management software and reports generated regularly.

If this is completed consistently across all projects the PMO then works with management to analyze the consolidated resource reports and help them deal with over-allocation issues including some guidance on help them find solutions. These might include assigning a different resource to complete a specific series of project tasks, identifying that some tasks may be delayed or that the resource assigned is not actually completing the task and rather, they are responsible to oversee its completion and therefore are not as time constrained as the report indicates.

It is beneficial to discuss resource over-allocation issues with the functional managers of the project resources. Discussing the issue with functional managers will help to identify opportunities for alternative resources or changing functional work priorities. As well, calling this issue to the attention of senior management will identify if projects can be re-prioritized. The prioritization of projects may be changed owing to a lack of resources to complete one or more of the projects or the senior management may provide larger budgets to some of the projects so that external resources can be hired.

The PMO needs to develop a plan to oversee the management of all resources across all projects on a continuous (at least monthly) basis. The resource plan will link all projects to organizational commitments for resources on a continuous basis and will anticipate potential resource issues.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Refocus Your PMO - Part IV

2.Ensure only strategically aligned projects are managed – all others should be dropped

Developing a systematic approach to prioritizing all projects in the organization makes sense but how many PMOs don’t do it or do it consistently. Too often, projects will get initiated without much consideration other than, “it seems like a great idea.” This lack of strategic alignment is a major reason for project failure. Project prioritization includes identifying how each project within each department is aligned with corporate strategy.

One way to establish a systematic approach to prioritizing projects is to develop an inventory of all projects, regardless of size or scope, that are currently being implemented by all departments and within the whole organization. This research phase is interesting. You will find many projects that staff are working on but that management is unaware. During this research many organizations will identify, for example, that they thought they had about 50 projects of various sizes being managed but when the inventory is completed they find out that there are over 100. It is no wonder resources are over-allocated and feeling stressed.

The next step in the prioritization process is to identify the overall goal, strategic alignment and key deliverables for each project. Then list these projects on a spreadsheet, referred to as a Project Prioritization Worksheet.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Refocus your PMO - part III

1. Critical Importance of Project Health Checks and Audits
The recession has increased the need for project audits more than ever. As organizations continue to look for immediate ways in which to save money and time, a project audit becomes a significant strategy for a PMO to quickly get to the source of project delays and other problems. Project audits always creates future opportunities and savings by helping to identify the root cause of problems and getting badly projects back on track. They have a direct, bottom-line impact for both public and private organizations.

Organizations that are considering employee lay-offs need to make sure that the projects in their pipeline are implemented on time and on budget despite staff reductions. A Project Health Check or Project Audit ensures that these projects are kept on track because any potential problems are quickly identified. Organizations that are scrambling to get new products to market want to accelerate their new product development life cycle and here too, project audits can be their saviour because they can quickly identify ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of projects.

If your organization is facing any of these challenges below, Project Audits are required• Projects are not aligned with the strategic imperatives and are therefore wasting resources, time and budget.
•Organizations are not seeing a positive impact on their bottom-line and/or customers from projects.
•Projects are over-time, over-schedule and/or under-resourced.
•Innovations are failing owing to the poor management of projects.
•There are many projects of various sizes within the organization and each department but it is unclear how each one aligns with overall corporate strategy. This leads to resource over-allocation on non-priority projects.
•Resources are stretched and not sure where to spend their time.
•The organization is clear on the expected outcomes from Strategic Initiatives but aren’t sure which ones will help them reach these.
•There is no strategic vision for the management of projects, though the organization may have an overall corporate strategic vision.
•There is no culture which supports the consistent management of all projects.
•Projects are in crisis and there is lots of fire-fighting.
•There is blame and excuses for poor project management.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Refocus your PMO - part II

Here are the three most important things you can do to ensure your survival;

1.Understand the Critical Importance of Project Health Checks and Audits
2.Ensure only strategically aligned projects are managed – all others should be dropped
3.Manage the resourcing across all projects

In our research of Project Management Offices we have found that the most focus on the technical and tactical side of their responsibility. This includes the development of project management processes, tools and templates. They collect data and present reports. These PMOs are doomed if they don’t refocus their efforts, park all of this job responsibility and think more strategically. The imperative today is to quickly demonstrate how the PMO can have an immediate impact on the continued success of their organization.

My next Blogs will detail how to do each of these things you need to do in order to survive.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Refocus your Project Management Office to Ensure it Positively Impacts Your Organization

Refocusing your Project Management Office or Enterprise Project Management Office is critical to ensure it continues to meet the strategic imperatives of your organization in today’s economic climate. There is a huge opportunity to ensure it not only survives any budget cuts but is seen as a source of opportunity for renewed organizational success.

PMOs can provide significant cost savings and other benefits when they align with the delivery of the organization’s strategic plan and are well-managed. Those that fail to do so do not survive. As organizations continue their search for non-revenue generating departments to eliminate, the PMO is starting to see their continued survival at risk.

I will use my upcoming blogs to provide you with some insights into creating and/or sustaining a PMO or ePMO that the organization will want to survive. Why? Because it will make a huge, measurable, impact on the organization.

Thanks for listening,

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Organizational Change That Sticks

I am finalizing a keynote presentation for an upcoming conference hosted by the American Society for Quality. There is so much doom and gloom research and studies out there that it is really difficult to find something intriguing to tell them and get them motivated to use the chagne process. However, I did find something.

This has only just been released and is very positive. The Ontario Government in Canada commissioned a report to identify the future of the province. Where should it be spending its money? The report was radical – but I think very positive. It really is a vision for North America – not just Ontario. It was researched and written by Richard Florida and Roger Martin, who is the dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

They say that the future depends on nurturing creativity and intelligence rather than protecting the past by bailing out struggling manufacturers. They call for a sweeping transformation of the manufacturing sector. (talk about change) “Our time is seeing the rise of a whole new economic system that is based more on brain than brawn, more on ideas than capital, more on human creativity than natural resources and brute strength”. They acknowledge that the transformation will be painful. But they say those regions that can extend the creative economy to the production of goods, services and resources will gain significant advantage. The current economic crisis opens opportunities for the province to use its full creative talents to expand the businesses and industries of the future. “In crises like these; nations, regions, provinces and states can rapidly change ground; they can improve or lose position, depending on the actions they take.”

I will give my keynote in 2 weeks. I hope this helps enlighten them to the possibilities that they can realize through a Strategic Change Process. I know that I have seen it in organizations with whom we work and I'm certain they will too.

Let me know how your own change efforts are progressing. All the best,

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why Project Management Training and Coaching is More Important Now than Ever!

Here is the last Blog in the series on managing in these difficult times with less resources, time and money by increasing their skill level in the managing of projects.

Project Managers and Team members experience much improved productivity of work by applying sound project planning processes. This is a result of clearer understanding of their roles and responsibilities, better definition of their work requirements and less rework. Team work also provides each individual the freedom to focus on the activities most aligned with their talents and passion. They’ll experience a reduction in stress and increase in a sense of control over what has to be done, why it has to be done and by when.

Our project management toolbox consists of powerful and effective tools and techniques that significantly improve productivity when applied properly. Is it time that you considered adding it to your strategy for survival and growth?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why Project Management Training and Coaching is More Important Now than Ever!

This is the third in my series on the benefits of providing project management training, coaching and auditing to help your organization's bottom-line and to help them to survive.

Stakeholders receive earlier notice to “red flags” or project problems that may be indicators of more trouble to come as well as better quality planning, quality assurance processes and quality acceptance steps, which are critical in today’s competitive and transparent vigilante consumer environment. Additionally stakeholders are able to better contain costs, scheduling and budgeting with professional project management. Risk assessments on projects helps to identify the early warning signs of potential problems which might affect stakeholders, ensuring they put in place contingencies to better manage these risks, reducing any negative impact on their key customers.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Why Project Management Training and Coaching is More Important Now than Ever!

My last couple of Blogs talked about the need for Project Management training and coaching. In addition to the contacts we are receiving for training, we are beginning to receive a number for project health checks and audits. This is great because it is telling us that organizations are finally recongizing the value that early project problem detection can provide. It will save them hugely in dollars and time.

Here are some of the benefits of professional project management for senior managers, functional managers, stakeholders, project managers and teams:

Functional Managers can benefit from the improvements in processes realized through project management and better allocation of resources—both people and monetary—as well as expansion of the organizational retained best practices. Better utilization of resources and improved systems of tracking the allocation of their resources across a number of projects helps improve staff efficiency and effectiveness.

I'll add more information on the others in subsequent Blogs.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Airline Choices

I travel extensively around the Globe. I enjoy working with the different cultures and visiting the different places. The most difficult part of travel is the overseas flight in economy. North American travel is at best “low class”. No amenities. You have to buy food and drinks, even on 6 hour flights. In Australia you can fly shorter distances and always get a meal land drinks. Most airlines in North America don’t offer any movies or entertainment of any sort. The exception is Air Canada which at least has individual movies for each passenger. However, no food or drinks (unless you pay for them).

When travelling internationally I usually fly Dubai, Singapore, Thai, Malaysian or Cathay. They are all amazing airlines. They have in-flight entertainment for each economy passenger and provide food and drinks at no cost. I have just returned from Australia. Since I was flying there from the United States instead of Canada and owing to my time constraints I ended up flying United Airlines. What an experience.

I always take an aisle seat so that I can easily get up and stretch whenever I want without disturbing anyone. I booked an aisle seat and confirmed it upon check-in. Yet when I got onto the plane I realized that I had a centre seat. I am a Star Alliance gold member/Air Canada Elite status. Regardless, the staff were unaccommodating. They really didn’t care. Not their problem. The plane was old. No in-flight entertainment, just one big screen for everyone to watch with old, bad movies. They provided food (that’s subject to opinion regarding what classifies as being food) and charged for drinks. I was astounded. Again, they were sorry but this is their policy.

The flight on United was no less expensive than flying on any other airline. They just give you less for your money. A warning to all – check what the flight offers, not just the price. I will never fly United again when going overseas and I will ensure I let others know that United is truly at the bottom of the barrel regarding service, friendliness and accommodation of their customers. No wonder they’re having financial challenges.

Monday, January 5, 2009

How to Save Time on Your Project and Win Sponsor Approval

Did you know that the major reasons projects fail is due to a breakdown of communication, lack of planning and poor quality control during the life cycle of a project? Just think about it... those challenges cost you and your company money, delays and frustration. We can help you solve those problems... After years of research and working with thousands of people just like you who want to improve their project management, we developed the Project Success Templates™. These templates will help you to: communicate better, develop a detailed plan for your project and improve the quality of your project delivery so that your project is successful.

These Templates are Superior to All Others
Although there are various project management templates on the market, I’m confident that you’ll find Project Success Templates™ superior to any other template product. Our templates are not just word processed forms. They are unique because they are interactive. They’re far superior to other project management templates.

Learn more
For more information about this great new product you can go to http://www.bia.ca/products or http://www.bia.ca/products.htm#all-in-one.