Saturday, May 25, 2013

Review of the PMI-NJ Sunday Seminar and Monday Symposium

Every year, the PMI-New Jersey Chapter (http://pminj.org/) holds its annual Sunday Seminar and Monday Symposium. This year’s theme for both events was: Sell your skills: Advance your career. This year, I would like to provide my review of both events. So, I will offer my own rating system as follows: 1=Bad, 2=Needs improvement, 3=Neutral, 4=Good, and 5=Exceptional.

Allow me to begin with the location and logistics of the Seminar and Symposium. This year, as many years before, it was held at the Pines Manor in Edison, NJ (http://www.pinesmanor.com).  I believe the leadership of PMINJ deserves a pat on the back, mainly because I don’t believe there is a more central NJ site that can accommodate almost 600 individuals at such a reasonable cost. Yes, the Pines Manor is mostly in business for weddings, proms, and other similar social gatherings. However, not all companies (including mine) reimburse the cost to attend the Seminar and Symposium. The only reason I will not give a rating of 5 is because this is not one of the exceptional meeting locations of NJ. Then again, for the cost, it is a good location.
Rating = 4.
Sunday Seminar
The PMINJ leadership offers a Sunday Seminar for those who cannot attend the Monday Symposium, which I believe is admirable. Along with the 4 PDUs offered, this is a good way to network with other project managers (PMs). The seminar speaker (and symposium morning keynote speaker) was Todd Cohen, www.toddcohen.com, who has authored a book titled, Everyone’s in Sales. Now I must admit to everyone that I do belong to a couple of network groups and I am very well aware and believe whole-heartedly that everyone is in sales. So, I went into the seminar with a chip on my shoulder believing that I already know all there is to know about networking.. Todd quickly knocked that chip off my shoulder. Yes, there were topics that I have heard and practice. However, I must tell you that Todd’s enthusiasm was both infectious and refreshing. What I came away from this seminar is that when I approach networking, I must be positive, proactive, and project a positive attitude.
Rating=5

Monday Symposium
Monday Morning Keynote
Everyone’s in Sales
Todd Cohen (www.toddcohen.com)
Once again, Todd provided his enthusiastic pitch in about an hour, compared with the four-hour Sunday seminar I wrote about above. The only addition that I would add is that I boasted to all those at my Monday morning table that I attended the Sunday seminar and that they should have as well.
Rating=4. I am giving it a 4 because it wasn’t as intense as the Sunday seminar because of the time constraint.
Morning Breakout – Track 1
Process: Developing World Class Process Maps
Lori Britt (www.majoroakconsulting.com)
So, here is an admission and a bias: I love process maps. Especially those that are well documented and simple so that everyone can understand what is being depicted in the map. Here’s what I came away with from the presentation by Lori Britt and her co-presenter (whose name escapes me and was not documented): I was especially impressed of their admission that when they consult at a business, they request that management stay out of the process meetings. YEAH!! I also liked their example of how to map out a “customer experience.” I will make this recommendation to those who believe they can map out a process without bias; Lori convinced me that an objective third party is the best way to do this. I recommend that anyone who is looking to do this should go to their website and be ready to be impressed.
Rating = 4. The only reason I am giving this a 4 is because the documentation should list ALL of the presenters and not leave it up to the audience (who is copiously taking notes on the subject matter) to write down any additional names.
Second Morning Breakout – Track 1
Process: Leadership is Taken not Given
Gus Cicala (www.projectassistants.com)
I must say that when it comes to a session on ”vision” and communication issues in project management, I always attend as I believe communication issues contribute to most failed projects. Here’s what I took away from this presentation: Gus places the finger on the main reason why communication fails – a disconnect from the tactical reason of a project that connects with the overall organizations strategy. BINGO! I could not have said it better. The reason why project team members don’t understand the project or can’t communicate its main objectives, or value, is because the PM has not communicated them. Gus’ methodology was well communicated and understood. Better yet, it is a “play book” for good PM communication processes. I strongly recommend his methodology to all those who need some guidance.
Rating = 4. The only reason I am not giving this a 5 is because I believe this should have been a keynote. That is more for PMINJ to correct than Gus to adjust.
Lunch Keynote
Projects Mean Change, Are You Ready?
Martha Legare (www.ganttgroup.com)
Here’s what I took away from this presentation: Culture change is the most important reason for project failures. Yes, there are contributing factors like restructuring, mergers, and re-engineering, but culture change is the most important. Also, a PM must be aware of their surroundings like a soldier walking through a minefield.
Rating = 3. These are superior points that must be understood by all PMs. I am not sure that these points were well communicated. 
Afternoon Keynote
Behaviors That Lead to Exceptional Behaviors 
Neal Whitten (www.nealwhittengroup.com)
Neil Whitten’s experience and documented success speaks for itself. I cannot provide any evaluation except to say that if you were one of the individuals who left early and did not hear Neal, you missed possibly the best presentation of the two days. What I took away from Neal’s presentation are these key tips: Understand and practice empowerment, think for yourself, and manage daily to your top three priorities (this was the most important for me). There are many more items that I took away from Neal’s presentation, but I don’t want to be thought of as an intellectual property thief. If you have the opportunity to attend Neal’s next speaking engagement or webinar, I strongly recommend that you make the time to attend.  
Rating = 5.
I give the overall Seminar and Symposium rating as a 4.

My next article is about motivation and how to keep it in a project with your team.  
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, May 4, 2013

Revenue projections and actuals – Why do these matter?

The statement that Project Managers (PMs) get things done holds true. That is why the profession of Project Managers began: to manage projects. What gets lost in the discussion is that second word:  manager. You see, if you want to become a manager, then certain responsibilities come with that position. One of the most important, especially in a Professional Services Organization (PSO), is revenue projections and actuals or actual revenues. In the PSOs that I have been associated with, PMs have been responsible for the costs AND the revenues. This was a change from my original work as a PM, but was an excellent lesson in management. Yes, we have to be good managers regarding resources, time-lines, and expectations, to name a few. But the management of revenues is what can perplex and possibly make a PM stumble. In this article, I would like to discuss why revenues matter in a project, especially in a PSO.

Why revenues?
It must be noted that the triple constraint is still the most important threesome in a project. Scope, Resources, and Time are still the triple dilemma for any PM. However in a PSO, a fourth goal is added: revenue. You see, PSOs are consultative organizations that deliver consulting or implementation services. So, along with the constraints in a normal project, a PM is given revenues as a goal. Now, some would consider revenue a constraint, but unlike scope, resources, and time, where the word constraint is properly used, revenue is not a constraint. With every project, certain costs will be associated with each of the constraints. However with revenues, a PM is not limited within that number. You see a PSO that delivers a service or implements a product can also deliver additional value to the client by adding onto the project. Now, I know what you are thinking; you are thinking that I am advocating scope creep. Nothing could be further from the truth in this case. If in fact a PM sees an opportunity to add onto a PSO project, that PM will deliver a change request or a new Statement of Work (SOW) spelling out the additional work AND the additional costs to the client.  So you can see the difference between scope creep and the extension of a project in a PSO.
Generating revenues is why a PSO is in existence in the first place. An organization sees the benefit of implementing a PSO for its product, or an organization is formed that delivers consulting services. So a PM that is in this PSO understands that the bottom line is to keep the expenses at a pace that is consistent with the revenues. If the project team delivers the project within scope, then keeping revenues on track and expenses in check should not be an extraordinary task for the PM.
What are the obstacles?
Just like a project in a regular Project Management Office (PMO), a project in a PSO can have scope creep. If the delivery of the implementation of the product or the delivery of the desired result of the consulting project is “extended” in scope by the client and the PM goes along with it, then scope creep becomes a reality. Another reason why projects experience scope creep is because the scope of the project is not understood by the project team. What I have come across many times is that the individuals placed on a project at the client’s end often have a different perception of what is in scope. So I strongly suggest that the PM start the project with a kickoff and review the SOW that has the scope statement within it. When the PM does that, there is no doubt what is in scope and what is not. If the team members from the client object, there is only one place for them to go and that is their management.
Next…
My next article is about motivation and how to keep it in a project with your team.  
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.