Project Management Templates available in our shop!

I am testing a new project management template shop system, offering project management templates that will save you a lot of time. This is pretty new so please let me know if you have problems using the shop. I will add more and more project management templates to the shop with time, and I will also offer a project management template pack that includes all the templates that you may need with a manual how to use them.

In addition, I am working on a book version of this site so that you can download all definitions. This, however, will take some more time since we are working on adding the definitions of the last edition of the PMBOK. I am thinking about offering a license for the book that allows you to get updates of the ebook for free but I am not sure yet how this could be handled. Let me know if you are interested in this so that I can move it higher on my priority list.

A fool with a (project management) tool is still a fool

This should not come as a surprise but most people don’t really want to hear this: You can buy and use as many project management tools as you want but if you don’t know how to manage a project, then you will still fail. Project management tools can make your project management efforts more efficient, and the scale of the projects you are able to manage can be different, but if you just rely on tech and tools, you will just fail at scale.

Remember Apple’s slogan “There is an app for that”? The advance of tech in our lives has led to the belief that if you just had the right app or tool, things can be automated completely. But this is not true. As an example, if you want to learn how to meditate (and I can really recommend to meditate), there are really beautiful apps out there that can help you to learn how to meditate. But you still have to do it. You still have to start the app, use it regularly (i.e. daily) and really listen and do what the instructor asks you to do. It won’t work if you just listen but do not try.

The same is true for project management tools. There are wonderful and even free project management tools out there. But no tool will solve the most important tasks that will make your project successful, such as understanding what your stakeholders really want (apart from understanding who your stakeholders really are), understanding the risks that your project might run into, or documenting the relevant pieces of information to name a few. It is all about communication. And whilst tech and tools can help tremendously in communication, you still have to do it. No tool or app will compensate for your lack of project management knowledge. Period.

PMBOK 5th Edition

[UPDATE April 28th, 2016: There are more than 200 new terms in the 5th edition of the PMBOK, and we are adding new terms every day now!]

In 2013 already, the PMI has updated the PMBOK. Please note that not all new terms have been added yet, we are working on this right now. There have been significant changes, i.e. a huge number of terms has been added and another huge number of terms has been removed. Having said that, even if some terms are officially “outdated”, they will still be used by some project managers.In some cases, project managers have been using the new terms even before they have been added to the PMBOK which clearly shows that the PMBOK is also updated to reflect the changes in reality. Please note that we try to mention in which version of the PMBOK terms are mentioned or not mentioned so that you know for which version the term is important if you are preparing for your Project Management Professional certification or any other certification the PMI is offering.

We will also update the abbreviations/acronyms.

Tools for Success: Concepts and Resources That Will Make Any Project a Snap

If you’re a project manager who’s working or actively looking for work, you’ve probably heard of the various methodologies of project management (PM), such as the Association for Project Management’s focus on “soft skills” or Prince2’s focus on the importance of honing in on your “hard skills.” Project Accelerator News and ParallelProjectTraining.com have both promoted these concepts at length and promote workshops at which project managers can attend and contribute. Building on these important skills, combined with intuitive management software, is a recipe for project success for most managers. Here are a few technical tools paired with soft skills that will help you to better navigate up that ladder of success.

Open Lines of Communication

Business woman and her teamClear and open communication is essential to the success of any project, according to Project Accelerator News. For the most part, PMs have the speaking clearly and convincingly part of communication nailed, but speaking is only one half. Another important factor is active listening. Being available to actively listen to what your team members are saying can remove hurdles that prevent you and your team members from reaching the goal. Use technology to cultivate stronger lines of communication. An online video meeting once a week demonstrates a collaborative attitude. Touching base with team members via live chat software throughout a project will prevent the large-scale mistakes the earn project managers severance packages.

Follow the Leader

The soft skill of leadership is something that comes natural to some project managers, but it can also be a learned skill. As the captain of the ship, PMs don’t always make the popular choice, according to Project Accelerator, but being fair and transparent when carrying out tasks is more important. One wonderful tool that can help project managers to stay on top of each part of a project is ProjectManager.com’s management software. For only $15 a month per user, this portable project management dashboard can be used by more than ten project managers at once.

Never Say Never

Being a good negotiator is about finding the alternate route that works for all parties, not about being stubborn. PMs understand negotiation can be an asset that is used for settling terms for a contract, discussing changes to a project with a client and finding wiggle room in precarious areas of a project. Expert Negotiator is one online software program that many PMs have used to help a project to stay on track, meet deadlines, and to manage the team that is working on the project.

All of these soft skills can add up to another skill that PMs have found to be essential: being an influencer. Having the power to influence others to get excited about a project is one way to encourage the best out of a team. A PM who has harnessed the skill to influence his team, can work alongside his team, while still maintaining leadership and a good influencer is someone who speaks and listens openly. Influence is the soft skill that separates PMs from the pack.

Take a Project Management Refresher Course for 2013

Project managers always have room for project improvement. Whether you are new to the world of project managing or have been in the role for quite some time, take a look at some of the tips below. If you’re new to the world of management, read on and pick up a few new ideas. If you’ve been at it for a long time, think of this as a refresher course—there might be a few concepts that could escape you and keeping yourself green is always a good idea.

Flowchart

Communicate Often and With Clarity

If you want to be successful in your position as a project manager, you will need to be a clear and confident communicator and always stay in contact with your team  and client, says Brad Egeland of ProjectInsight.com. Remember, you are the person who the client will contact with questions or concerns. Egeland suggests that if you put reminders in place on your project resource management calendar to follow up with team members and clients. Touching base with your team is equally important so you have information on the stages of your client’s project, so you can relay your progress during client/company meetings.

Set Your Agenda and Stick to it

Before you meet with your client or your team, chart a game plan that is loose but practical, and make sure that everyone is on the same page. A good way to do this is to use a web-based project management program that you can alter to fit the needs of your project. And use Microsoft’s Outlook calendar application to schedule weekly or biweekly meetings with your creative team and with your clients. Make sure that you have an agenda for each planning stage and for each meeting and that you don’t jump ahead of your project’s development. Stick to your agenda and if something comes up unexpectedly that needs to be addressed, deal with it and then move on to the next item.

Plan a Kickoff Meeting

Have at least one meeting that will bring all of the elements of the project together. It is essential to quickly and accurately gauge the full scope of the client’s needs. TechRepublic.com‘s Michael Sisco says a well prepared kickoff meeting is essential to the progression of a project. Also, having an internal meeting can be a great way to brainstorm possible ideas, concepts and budget your time with your team.

Whether your company has a large budget or you’re working on a shoestring, these simple practices are essential to the success of any project. Communication, organization and implementation of these concepts will help you on your journey to becoming a great project manager with an supply of happy clients who will provide you with lots of referrals.

Google Compatible Apps for Project Management

It seems like everyone is using Google these days – and not just for personal purposes. According to the folks at White Stratus, one in five U.S. companies use Google Apps. Surprisingly, the bigger the company, the more likely they are to be leveraging these tools. The most commonly used applications are those that come standard with the basic product suite (Docs, Calendar, etc.). However, as businesses get past the pilot stage they are branching out and adding more functionality with niche solutions from companies that build web-based products to interface with Google Apps. Project management is one area where such specialty applications are coming into their own.

Product Options

There are dozens of PM apps on the market. Each one has its own blend of features ranging from basic collaboration and document sharing to more comprehensive solutions with project reporting functions. Here are details on a few applications:

Gantter Project

This application focuses on the scheduling aspect of project management. As the name suggests, you can use it to generate bar charts showing progress. The developer claims that the product integrates fully with Google Docs and that MS Project files can be imported.

Manymoon

This product centers around team management. It allows users to share files and gives the project manager the ability to assign tasks. These functions are interfaced with Google apps such as Gmail with single sign-on. You can create projects from a basic template and track milestones. However, Gantt chart-style reports aren’t available.

Smartsheet

This app offers both communication capabilities and chart generation. The newest version of this product also gives users the ability to create sub-tasks and define logical relationships. It also tracks changes to promote better decision-making.

Mavenlink

This application puts a lot of emphasis on customization. You can brand your “portal” with your company’s look and feel. Unlike many Google integrated apps for project management, this one includes time tracking and billing functions.

Pros and Cons of Using Apps

The most commonly mentioned benefit is that many Google compatible PM apps are free or very low cost. Sometimes, apps are rolled out in a free version because they are still in the testing phase and will eventually be billed on a pay-per-use or similar basis once all the kinks are addressed. In the meantime, be prepared for a lot of revisions as the app is being developed. If frequent changes affect the end user’s experience, this could negatively impact a project.

On the other hand, if your current software tools aren’t serving your project management needs, you might test drive a few apps to see if they work for you. Here are some questions to ask in your search for the right fit:

  • What functions currently being handled by other software does this app fully replace?
  • Will I need separate applications for time tracking, reporting, billing, etc?
  • Can I import and export data to other applications as needed?
  • Is real-time data sharing with other back-end software possible?

You may find that it takes several overlapping apps to get all the functionality you need from these cloud-based niche products. While Google Apps may be making significant inroads in large businesses, it doesn’t appear that there is currently a comprehensive project management app that could be deployed on the enterprise level.