Five Rules of Engagement for Working with a Project Management Consulting Firm

If you’ve hired a consulting organization to provide project management services, it’s likely because your internal staff:

A. May not have the experience you want or need for the project to be successful
B. May not have the skills to manage the project
C. May not have the bandwidth for the project(s) you have in your portfolio
D. A little of all of the above

Rules of Engagement for working with IT Project Management FirmSince projects are often one-time occurrences, you might want a resource who has previous experience on one or more projects of a similar nature, and many times that means hiring a consultant. Or, perhaps you have the best team of technical resources around, but need the project management oversight to ensure the project stays on track and that communications and status are flowing through the appropriate channels. None of these reasons for hiring a consulting firm are bad ones. They are just the simple truths of business.

When you hire a consultant (whether us or another firm), there are a few basic, universal guidelines that we both need to honor: Continue reading

International Project Management: 3 Ways to Improve Your Relationships with Foreign Governments…And Maybe Domestic Ones Too.

International Project Management“Why not??” I yelled at the customs agent in the airport. “Sir, you don’t have the right paperwork to get in our country with all those cameras” he responded while distracted by the long line of arriving passengers behind me. “We do!” I replied, “We have a letter from a local organization asking us to run a digital arts program for children.” He looked at the line once more and flatly responded, “That’s not enough. You need a letter from the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Women and Children, and the Ministry of Education.” How were we to know that we needed letters from three different Ministries? And how were we supposed to get those letters?

The challenges of working with government bureaucracy are not new. Everything is globalized and many projects are expanding across borders. Governments around the world can be your best friend or greatest frustration. Bureaucracy does not have to be a roadblock. Here are 3 ways to improve your chances of building successful relationships with governments around the world. Continue reading

Project Management and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance

Project Management Art of Bicycle MaintenanceAlbert Einstein wrote in a letter to his son, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

Last weekend, Keith Parker, Principal at Trillium Professional Services, kept moving in the 200+ mile Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic (STP). In a recent interview, Parker shared his thoughts on the bike ride and a few other things: Continue reading

How to Keep Your Project Charter from Gathering Pixel Dust

Updating Your Project Charter“Exactly how do you plan to get down from there?” asked my husband.

During the summer, I was out picking blackberries (the real ones, not the smartphones) and saw a wonderful patch of delicious-looking wild mountain blackberries. They were perfectly ripe and ready for pies and jam.

The patch, though, was growing over a large, rotting tree stump. As I climbed up the stump and through the vines to reach the berries, I used parts of the uneven stump as footholds. About half-way up the stump, part of it crumbled away just as I lifted my foot to move a little farther.

I was so focused on the goal – get the blackberries – that I forgot to pause, take stock of the situation and reassess my current status. I had encountered an issue, and I wasn’t even aware of it. In other words, my husband was right. I was rather stuck.

During any project, it’s easy to focus on moving forward toward the end goal. Each week, we update our status reports, add in the accomplishments since the previous report, maybe update a few of the issues, and change the percentage complete (ideally increasing it). Then, we submit the status report and hope it might merit a quick glance by someone in the PMO or, if we are really lucky, maybe even by one of our project stakeholders.

But as project managers, we often become so engrossed with managing the details of our projects that we forget to step back, take a look a where we’ve been, and evaluate our current situation.

Part way through your project, take an hour or so to evaluate your project from a 10,000 foot view. Continue reading