I stumbled upon an insightful piece by Wired, titled "Big Boards and the Rise of Massive Office Screens" in which the author acknowledges the silent rise of big screens in the offices, shadowed by the triumph of small screens that are getting all the media coverage. From the article "At tech companies large and small, big wall-mounted displays showing statistics and other live data have become shared reference points, digital campfires that can focus a group of employees on common goals. Some show web traffic, others customer support queues, product development progress or the leaderboard in the pingpong rankings, but all capitalize on the falling prices of big flat-panel televisions and the growing ease of funneling live information into those screens."
Having visited numerous software companies in recent years I've taken a notice that having at least one large screen set up in an office is pretty much a norm. In many cases one screen is not enough but there's several of them scattered around the office. In Screenful, we strongly believe that each team should have their own big screen devoted to their own data. Heck, why not?
Furthermore, the article states that "At a time when team members are pulled apart by web distractions, work-from-home allowances and endlessly buzzing smartphones, these big office boards are a way to get everyone on the same page again."
The point of having something constantly visible for everyone is in turning data into a shared experience. You may not need more information beamed at you through every possible channel. But you do need to be on the same page with your co-workers.
We have all been told that communication with all stakeholders, particularly the core project team, is one of the central responsibilities of the Project Manager. We support this idea and have mentioned it in several of our previous articles. You may have seen a well-known communications formula of ‘N(N-1)/2’ used as proof that the addition of new members to any program or project team increases the number of communication channels exponentially. For example, if your team increases from 15 to 17, the number of possible communication channels goes up by 31; try the calculations and you’ll see what we mean.
Applying this theory, a small team may have ten to fifty communication channels, while a large team may have thousands. A Project Manager should understand that the time required to manage communications grows with the number of channels, and begin to look for ways to effectively and efficiently communicate with their project stakeholders – keeping in mind that different stakeholders require different information at different times in the project. (Our article on Project Success Planning covers this topic.) With the ease and availability of blogs in today’s corporate setting, you may be asking yourself, “Is blogging a good communication option for my project?”
Because each project phase requires the appropriate emphasis at a given time, the number of channels the program or project manager must manage varies throughout the lifecycle of a project. For example, in the early stage of a project – let’s call it Preliminary (or Discovery, the term we use in our article “Nine Essential Steps for Project Success”) – you may have a relatively low number of channels because you are only working with a few key stakeholders. In contrast, in the Execution or Deployment phase, your team will be fully engaged with many people. Further, communication by the project manager is a key area of focus as the project lifecycle draws to a close. Figure 1.1 below illustrates an example/typical scenario. (Note: the lifecycle phases are examples; your organisation probably has different ones).
If you spend a reasonable amount of time working on projects, you are likely to hear team members use sports metaphors. This is a positive trait. Sports metaphors can be great motivators and examples of “how to do things.”
Beyond the metaphors, can methodologies in team sports suggest core practices for project management? We think the answer to this question is yes.
There are many similarities between project management and team sports. For the purpose of this article, we focus on eight areas that we feel are particularly relevant.
If you are an experienced project practitioner you may be asked at some point, ”What are the key things that a Project Manager should do in order to be successful?” There is no one-line, simple answer to this question. Success depends on many factors, including the organization for which you work, the power granted or bestowed on the project manager, the responsibilities they are given on their project, and other influencing criteria. Having said that, we have found over the years that there do exist certain factors which, when done well, usually influence success. Let us elaborate.
First, we must establish your expectations as the reader. The nine steps we put forth in this article are not a “Holy Grail” for successfully managing a project. They represent actions which, if undertaken with purpose and meaning, can help set your project on the path to success, and keep it on that path. Think of the nine steps in this manner: if you are planning a road trip by car, there will be many steps to your plan (many of which you will do automatically); check that your vehicle is in good working order, ensure you have a map of the route, be certain that you have fuel, and so on. Some steps in this plan are more critical than others. This is the same principle we are applying to these “success factors” for project management. The nine steps are not in a sequence; whilst Step 1 will be undertaken before the others, the others may be undertaken in a different order.
For project managers, the support of their team is critical for completing projects successfully. Yet, a team’s respect cannot simply be assigned like a task. Acquiring and executing project authority with the support of a full project team demands careful and skilled execution.
Project leadership requires a humble yet assertive persona, capable of taking charge when needed and delegating authority wherever possible. A project manager must develop their own skills and lead with principles. Doing so will certainly encourage team loyalty. If a project manager simply presumes authority, they will never earn the backing of their team.
We do not seek to discuss the merits of different project management tools and techniques, nor will we examine the differences between program and project management; rather, we put forward what we hope are thought-provoking points for you to consider.
Gareth, Gary, Jeff, and Brian are PgMP (Program Management Professional) credentialed through the Project Management Institute (PMI)¬Æ. (In fact, that's how we met, became good friends and collaborators on articles.) We know from personal experience what it takes to obtain. Additionally, in early 2010, Jeff and Brian did a study and presentation on the overall results and benefits of having the PgMP credential, based on a survey of 225 PgMPs, over half of the PgMPs credentialed at the time. Their benefits study was one of the focus topics at the 2010 PMI North America Congress in Washington, DC.
As we weigh the value of the credential, let"s first consider the PgMP credential itself. Per PMI, the PgMP credential is intended to "recognize advanced experience, skill and performance in the oversight of multiple related projects and their resources, aligned with an organizational objective." We won't be going into the formal details and process steps to obtain the credential; that information is readily available through the PMI. However, the PgMP credential process can be broken down to three main areas or steps:
In part 1 of this blog, we talked about not all communication events were pushed out to the project stakeholders. Let’s look at some different types of communications interventions that represent the information, ideas, topics and subject matter that flow to and from the stakeholders through formal communication channels.