How to Inject Life Back Into Your Project

July 3rd, 2012

The recent power outages in the Washington, DC metropolitan area have inspired me to blog about losing power (electricity) and the effect it has on people and communities from a metaphorical project management perspective.  

Keep reading if you are a Project Manager looking for signals or indicators that your project is losing ‘power’ and how to inject life back into your project.

How do you recognize a ‘power loss’ in a project?

It can be hugely beneficial to see your project from the outside-in perspective.  This is something that I have blogged about in the past to encourage PMs to occaisonally step away from the tactical details and see projects from multiple stakeholders lenses.  It has been my experience that there are a few ‘tells’ when a project is losing momentum;

  • Sponsors or key stakeholders have become uninvolved, uninterested, or have moved on to other priorities
  • Workstreams are not meeting agreed upon delivery dates or delivery dates are frequently extended as they near expected completion
  • Lack of integration and gaps in communication, both inside and outside the project team, have people feeling frustrated or disengaged

How do I turn around a troubled project?

It is not always easy to recognize – or admit – that there is room for project improvement, especially when you are at the helm.  Again, just like in real life, projects appear differently from multiple vantage points.  Perceptions are powerful.   The good news is, that while the bullet points above may not be preferred, they are totally normal and may be overcome with a push in the right direction.  Here’s how:

  • Address issues head on.  Avoiding them only makes them worsen and harder to correct the situation.
  • No fault, no finger pointing.  Hold people/teams accountable.
  • Talk about making a positive course correction(s) and others will usually appreciate being part of the solution
  • Integrate.  Explore and address intersections with cross funcitonal efforts/teams
  • Keep stakeholders abreast of status (recent accomplishments, next steps, issues/risks)
  • Seek out creative ways for stakeholders to share a common understanding of why we are doing what we are doing
  • Projects bring about change.  Recognize changes as you go along so other people can share the same understanding of the new normal

How VeriScope Can Help You?

VeriScope has built a leading project management consulting practice on deep functional expertise and unmatched ability to elevate business results.  Is your project in trouble?  Do you need a fresh perspective from the outside to help you and others see maintain a path to success?  Contact us today, let us be your strategic business partner.  We are available on a consulting or contractual basis to staff your project with one of our many competent, results-driven project leaders.

About the author:  Joe Giampa is a seasoned management consultant, Project Management Professional (PMP), and a Prosci certified Change Management practitioner.  Joe shares his experiences gained over the last twelve years while bringing to life the visions of senior leaders by implementing leading-edge solutions, systems, and processes for multi-billion dollar companies.  Joe is the Chief Project Manager at VeriScope, Inc. – a leading provider of Project Management consulting, staffing, and training to commercial and government clients looking to  mature internal project management capabilities and maximize successful project outcomes.

Follow Joe on TwitterLinkedIn, or Facebook.  Read other blog posts.

Spring Has Sprung… Is Your Project Ready to Enter a New Season?

April 6th, 2012

Growing up in Northern Virginia, I, like most people, am always energized by the break in low temperatures, the bright pops of color, and the promise that the long, cold winter is behind us.  As a Project Manager, I take the same opportunity to revisit each of my programs and projects because I believe that applying a fresh perspective can have a huge impact on results.  Today’s blog builds off a previous posts that I have authored on considering an outside-in perspective. project turn arounds, and how to inject life back into a project

Projects bring about change, are you and other stakeholders living the change?  Successful projects bring about change.  These changes come in all shapes and sizes (e.g. changes to processes, operations, business support, technology implementations).    Project Managers are on the front line of change and have already adopted personal commitments to change.  But this is not always true for all stakeholders. 

Use your position as Project Manager to help usher others along the change path.  Resistance to change has the ability to seriously impede successful project outcomes.  Address this as part of your project planning efforts.  Most change management experts will agree that people need to hear messages five to seven times before the message is actually received (and more importantly, absorbed).  This is why it is imperative to take time to frequently communicate the need to change, the project vision and intended benefits, what has been accomplished to date, and where you are heading next. 

Break away from the mundane and shake things up!  Sometimes when we are in the thick of execution, things may become routine.  When things become routine, there is a tendency to become less engaged and overlook or minimize issues/risks that require greater exploration.  This is the perfect time to shake things up!  For example, do you still need to have that weekly stakeholder meeting?  Pulse the group about frequency and let them be part of the decision.  If you are feeling that things are becoming routine, trust your instincts because typically, you are not alone. 

Revisit milestones, schedules, and deliverables.  Refine and refocus as appropriate.  In the spirit of progressive elaboration, it is always a good practice to revisit and refine as you know more information and when you can be more granular in planning.  Ask yourself, do these milestones make sense now that we are here in the current state Is the team focused on the most impactful actions that will lead to desired outcomes?

How VeriScope Can Help You?

VeriScope has built a leading project management consulting practice on deep functional expertise and unmatched ability to elevate business results.  Could your project benefit from a little Spring cleaning?  Contact us today, let us be your strategic business partner.  We are available on a consulting or contractual basis to staff your project with one of our many competent, results-driven project leaders. 

About the author:  Joe Giampa is a seasoned management consultant, Project Management Professional (PMP), and a Prosci certified Change Management practitioner.  Joe shares his experiences gained over the last twelve years while bringing to life the visions of senior leaders by implementing leading-edge solutions, systems, and processes for multi-billion dollar companies.  Joe is the Chief Project Manager at VeriScope, Inc. – a leading provider of Project Management consulting, staffing, and training to commercial and government clients looking to  mature internal project management capabilities and maximize successful project outcomes.

Follow Joe on TwitterLinkedIn, or Facebook.  Read other blog posts.

Why You Should Use Contract Project Managers

March 14th, 2012

Here are the top four reasons why our clients engage VeriScope for all of their project management needs:

  • Strategic business partner dedicated to your results.  When you partner with VeriScope, you not only get a contract project manager, you get a strategic business partner dedicated to your results.  Our PMs have a deep reach into our team of experienced project management consultants who are able to collaboratively solve our clients biggest challenges.  Your success becomes our success when you partner with VeriScope.
  • Deep functional project management expertise.  Our project leaders bring real world experience to your organization.  They ensure your project or product is delivered on time, within budget, and with requisite quality.  Once our project leaders are engaged, they hit the ground running with very short ramp-up times.  We understand that failure is not an option and your project sponsor wants to meet targets and be successful.  We get to know your organization and your culture so that we are able to delicately balance the art and science of project management.  We bring results.
  • 100% dedicated focus.  Project leaders serve an important role as integrator and lead communicator.  It is imperative that this person have 100% of their time allocated/dedicated to successfully deliver the intended project results.  Matrixed resources are typically allocatesd only a small percentage of their time  (e.g. 10% – 20% or 4 to 8 hours per week).  In other words, these employees must still fulfill their day jobs and squeeze time in to support the project.  Let’s face it – only having slivers of peoples time is not the most effective practice.  This may be acceptable for smaller projects, but definitely not for larger, cross-functional efforts.  Another scenario that we have seen play out time and time again, is where successful functional managers are appointed to lead an new project or initiative, but do not have the skills or experience to be immediately successful as a PM (also known as the halo effect).  Take for example a senior software developer who is a rock star at engineering code, but may not make the best PM (yet).
  • Overall net costs of contract staff are typically lower than full time employees.  You cannot simply compare the bill rate of a contractor to the annual salary of a full time employee.  Many factors for consideration must be analyzed, like salary/compensation, bonus, cost of benefits (medical, dental, and vision insurance), 401k contributions, paid holidays, tuition reimbursement, training, employers portion of federal/state tax liabilities, other programs that you may offer, etc.  Consider all that it takes to attract, source, interview, and onboard new hires…  And when you factor in possible attrition rates as high as 50% within 2 years  – you may want to take another look at contract resources.  Best of all, once your project needs change, you are able to immediately remove contractor costs from your budget, giving you more control.

That bill rate doesn’t look so high now, does it? 

How VeriScope Can Help You?

VeriScope has built a leading project management consulting practice on deep functional expertise and unmatched ability to elevate business results.  Available on a consulting or contractual basis, allow us to staff your next project with one of our many competent, results-driven project leaders.  Contact us today for more information.

About the author:  Joe Giampa is a seasoned management consultant, Project Management Professional (PMP), and a Prosci certified Change Management practitioner.  Joe shares his experiences gained over the last twelve years while bringing to life the visions of senior leaders by implementing leading-edge solutions, systems, and processes for multi-billion dollar companies.  Joe is the Chief Project Manager at VeriScope, Inc. – a leading provider of Project Management consulting, staffing, and training to commercial and government clients looking to  mature internal project management capabilities and maximize successful project outcomes.

Follow Joe on TwitterLinkedIn, or Facebook.  Read other blog posts.

How to Calibrate Stakeholder Perceptions

January 7th, 2012

In a previous blog post, I challenged Project Managers to step back and look at their projects from the outside-in perspective.  The post explored the power of perceptions and how stakeholders view projects from different vantage points and elevations.  Today’s post will build on that information previously shared and  provide a deeper dive into calibrating stakeholder perceptions.

A common technique that I use with my clients and project stakeholders to calibrate perceptions is something that I call “What, Why, and How”.

What answers the question, in a sentence or two, what are we doing?  What is the current challenge or opportunity that we are facing?

Why is to remind people why we have chosen to undertake the project and to reiterate the intended benefits and expected outcomes.

How is demonstrating our roadmap to success by articulating a series of high-level goals (milestones) from start to finish

When to use the What, Why, and How technique…  I think that projects have ‘tells’ just like poker players have ‘tells’.  While projects may not have nervous throat clearings or funny eye/lip movements, they do have the following:

Pace changes.  It’s no surprise that project paces vary throughout the lifecycle, sometimes the pace is lighting fast, and other times may feel like things are moving at a snails pace.  Take the opportunity to remind project staff why you have set out on this particular journey and what has been accomplished to date.  Times when your project pace may be slower represents the perfect opportunity for deep-dives or lessons learned sessions.

Team composition changes.  At some point or another, project teams gain and/or lose team members.  Resource changes  can have both positive and negative implications on a project.  To gain expertise or resources is good, whereas losing critical skills is not so good.  New players can have a profound impact on your project, so ask them to share their fresh perspectives at the onset.  Not all attrition is bad…  Healthy attrition makes room for new staff by shedding staff who may be clinging to the old way of doing things, spewing negatively, or may simply not have the time to allocate to the effort which in turn, slows down progress.

Stakeholder/sponsor needs change. It not uncommon for stakeholder/sponsor needs to evolve over time.  Internal or external factors may fuel these changes, such as regulatory/compliance changes or an increase/decrease in project funding.

Success and reaching milestones.  Projects that span over long periods of time tend deliver changes to organizations, processes, and environments.  When major milestones are reached, new normals are introduced and experiences will change.  To navigate these changes, project managers should stay agile and motivate others to maintain a healthy level of agility.

Whatever the case may be, keep an eye out for these types of scenarios and be sure to seize the opportunity to reiterate What, Why, and How.  By doing so, you can help your project sustain a positive momentum and ensure that you are communicating effectively.

About the author:  Joe Giampa is a seasoned management consultant, Project Management Professional (PMP), and a Prosci certified Change Management practitioner.  Joe shares his experiences gained over the last twelve years while bringing to life the visions of senior leaders by implementing leading-edge solutions, systems, and processes for multi-billion dollar companies.  Joe is the Chief Project Manager at VeriScope, Inc. – a leading provider of Project Management consulting, staffing, and training to commercial and government clients looking to  mature internal project management capabilities and maximize successful project outcomes.

Follow Joe on TwitterLinkedIn, or Facebook.  Read other blog posts.

What Does Your Project Look Like from the Outside-In Perspective?

December 2nd, 2011

Leading and motivating matrixed staff, handling client concerns and competing priorities, balancing the triple constraints, maneuvering tight schedules, producing rock star status reports… Sound familiar?  Yep, all in a day in the life of a Project Manager.

You are a talented Project Manager with your finger on the project pulse…

You know the implications of slippages of your dependent activities…

If you were asked, “where are we at right now on XYZ project“, you could pinpoint your exact location in terms of status and delivery with laser precision…

In Summary – you know your project INSIDE-OUT.

But when was the last time that you took a strategic pause to observe your project from the OUTSIDE-IN perspective?

Because Project Managers are handling so many of the project mechanics as previously described, it is easy to get down in the weeds.  And don’t get me wrong, getting down to the gnats eyelash is required at times to get the job done (right).

So what do I mean when I say to observe your project from the outside-in and why you should do this regularly?

Here are some questions to ask yourself when a fresh perspective is needed:

1.  Am I acting as an integrator, helping my project team and other stakeholders connect the dots?

2.  How does my project sponsor perceive the current status and health of my project and is (s)he able to clearly articulate merits to other senior leaders?

3.  Are key stakeholders kept in the loop about efforts that are currently underway as well as upcoming milestones?

4.  Has it been too long since you reminded all involved why we have undertaken the project (what are the intended benefits and expected outcomes)?

Perceptions are powerful.  Project Managers spend more than 70% of their time communicating.  Some would increase that figure in upwards of 90%.  Either way, both statistics reinforce the need to incorporate multiple perspectives into our messaging.  Building awareness and keeping stakeholders apprised is vital to project health.

The next time you are updating that status report or pulling together your dashboard content, take a look at your project from the outside-in.  Who knows, maybe a fresh perspective is exactly what the PM doctor ordered.

About the author:  Joe Giampa is a seasoned management consultant, Project Management Professional (PMP), and a Prosci certified Change Management practitioner.  Joe shares his experiences gained over the last twelve years while bringing to life the visions of senior leaders by implementing leading-edge solutions, systems, and processes for multi-billion dollar companies.  Joe is the Chief Project Manager at VeriScope, Inc. – a leading provider of Project Management consulting, staffing, and training to commercial and government clients looking to  mature internal project management capabilities and maximize successful project outcomes.

Follow Joe on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.  Read other blog posts.

Veriscope, Inc.
P.O. Box 721
Ashburn, VA 20146

703-436-5001 Office
703-436-5006 Fax
info@veriscopepm.com