Friday, March 15, 2013

How to keep the project manager and the project team motivated

We all know the story line: The project is bogged down and the project team–and even the project manager–are losing hope that the project can be put back on track. There are a ton of excuses given and we all know them. “Development delivered the fix a month later than expected and the client has had other priorities come up. The project team members work on other projects and some of the team members’ projects are in the deployment phase.”  Or the best one: ”We have to re-baseline the project and our deliverables have to be re-scoped, so we cannot provide a new delivery date for some time.”  So how does a PMO Director or Director of Project Management keep the project manager, as well as the affected team, motivated?

Motivation may not be the only challenge
When some project team members have met their task deliverables and the project becomes bogged down, those members may have a negative outlook and affect other team members. Once a project manager sees that, it is the PM’s duty to nip this in the bud quickly and professionally. I am not suggesting that the PM use an iron fist on team members. As a matter of fact, I believe the PM must be transparent and make this the first discussion point in the next project meeting, even calling a special meeting if necessary. In the next project meeting or the special meeting, the PM should let the team members’ voice their concern AFTER the PM discusses the reality of the project and how important it is that the team members work through any discouragement they may be feeling.
If this project stays in the “red” for a protracted amount of time, it is easy to see how the team members will lose motivation and become negative. The PM must take positive steps. First and foremost, the PM must inform the PMO Lead and the project sponsor, first about the delay and then the issue of project members becoming dismayed and losing motivation. The PM must ask for support from both by having them use their influence in getting the late piece of work that is holding up the project completed as quickly as possible. Then the PM should ask that both attend the next project meeting to provide support to the PM and the team.
What if a member remains negative?
If a project team member remains negative, that specific person must be spoken to and dealt with as quickly as possible. What the PM does not want to happen is having the negativity of this specific person spreading to other members. The negative person must be allowed to express his or her views and issues to the PM. The PM must then assess them and have a plan for this person. If the person has legitimate issues, the PM must address them. If the person only has issues because the person is unhappy, it may be time to request that this person be removed from the project team.  
This is not the most pleasant action a PM can take, but it is necessary at times to ensure that the project moves forward and is completed successfully. 

How to deal with the fallout if a member must be removed

The removal of a project member may have a negative impact at first. The PM must be transparent and communicate with the other project members and assure them that this move was in the best interest of the project and the other team members. Once that is done, the PM must ensure that the project gets back on track.  

Some of the work a PM must do is not as pleasant as one would think. The PM has a duty to the other project team members, the project sponsor, the PMO Lead, and to himself or herself to ensure that this project is completed successfully. 
I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine.You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What should a PSO weekly meeting be like in a PMO?

A weekly meeting to set the direction and ….
No one likes to attend meetings. They are always too long and most of the time, have no agenda. However, these meetings help set the direction regarding the health of the Professional Services Organization (PSO) as well as the Project Management Office (PMO).  When running a meeting once a week, the manager must set a consistent agenda so the resources know what to expect.  First and foremost is an overview of the status of the current projects. Second is a discussion of projects that are red or are at risk of going red and what must be done so that will not happen. Third and most importantly, is a discussion of projects in the pipeline.  Let’s take these one at a time. 
What is the status of the current projects?
This portion of the meeting should not be a full blown discussion of the status of each project, but rather a brief overview of the projects that are on track.  This should be the shortest portion of the hour and should take no longer than 10 minutes, mainly because you want to focus on the projects that need help and what is in the pipeline. The status should be something like, “The project is green and on schedule as it moves into the testing phase.” Short, sweet and to the point.
This weekly update does not negate the importance of the status meeting; the status meeting involves the client and that meeting should be meaty. But the weekly status meeting this is not the audience for a lengthy status. This portion of the meeting is to keep everyone informed on which stage the projects are in and if there are any roadblocks in the future.
Which projects are red or at risk of going red?
This portion of the meeting should take no longer than 15 minutes. I say that first because the project managers in charge of the project should come prepared to state what the issue or issues are with the project. These should be stated succinctly and to the point and without the BS that may have taken/is taking the project to red. The manager needs to know:
·         What is the main reason that the project has gone red?
·         Does the client understand the problem and is the client helping to resolve the problem?
·         What is the solution to bring the project back to green?
·         What is the cost of the solution and the project going red overall?
·         Has the solution gone before change management and has it been scheduled?
The manager also wants to hear that the project manager believes that this solution will keep the project in green for the duration of the project.
What projects are in the sales pipeline?
The next part of the meeting should take about 35 minutes and may include the sales manager. What is needed from the sales manager is a rundown of those sales that are closed or at least 85% closed.  With the sale as close as 85%, a project manager may be assigned to begin the project’s initiation phase (i.e., putting the scope together and beginning the Statement of Work). This gives both sales and the PSO a heads up to what is coming up and allows them to begin the process of getting the correct communications to the prospective client.
Now, you may ask, “Why does this have to be the biggest part of the weekly meeting?” The answer is because the PSO or even the PMO cannot survive very long if all it discusses are current projects. The PSO needs fresh projects to meet their revenue and career objectives.
With this meeting set up as I have described, the PSO can grind out the project and meet their annual objectives for the organization.

I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine.You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.