For busy people: A very short guide to project management software

 

 

We're all busy, some of us productively, some of us not.  We all need stuff made short and simple.  Which is what this piece does for project management software.  The right project management software can make all the difference when it comes to successful project completion.  It can provide solutions to all the major frustrations and time drains that all project management teams need to address.  Here's how ..... 

 

 

 

Organisation 

 Project management provides solutions to all the common organisational issues that every project experiences. It facilitates a centralised system, accessible by everyone involved, with clear dashboards showing project progress, next steps, timelines and budgets. This clear visual overview of the project can be updated at the touch of a button with each step forward that the project team takes. 

 

Accountability 

 Within any project management team, accountability is vital. The right software system provides a transparent, easily accessible and updateable task list, indicating who is responsible for what, what has been done, and what is overdue. One-touch reporting allows team members to inform the entire team of project updates instantaneously.  

 

Consolidation 

 Software can consolidate project data with relative ease. It keeps all information in one place, with important data clearly displayed, and all files automatically updated to the most recent version. Communication can also be centralised through the system, cutting out the need for countless emails and face-to-face meetings, where only the people involved know what was discussed. 

 

Follow-up 

 Following up on tasks becomes easier but less necessary with the right software in place. Managers can see at a glance which tasks are complete, and which are still pending, and easily check what the status is on anything for which they are waitingTeam members can update the system in real time, so there is no time wasted in chasing up people who may or may not have completed tasks because of a lack of clarity. 

 

Visibility 

 One of the strongest benefits of project management software is the ability to create a clear overview of an entire projectDashboards can be customised, with all key information represented in one placeManagers can track project progress from their desk in a fraction of the time it might previously have taken to pull together an overview of the project, and the overview is complete, with no missing documents, reports or data floating around. The dashboard is your own 'at a glance' picture of everything you need to see.

 

Evaluation 

 Ongoing evaluation is essential to good project management. With advanced software, evaluation can be built into the system, with things such as current spend, projected timelines, progress towards desired outcomes, and other key performance indicators incorporated into the system, so the progress of the project is obvious. Detailed records of every phase of the project are logged, allowing for an easy assessment of the success and cost-effectiveness of every project. 

 

Feedback 

 Feedback on a finished project can also be facilitated by project management softwareIndeed, software systems can be set up for built-in feedback. Communication between managers and team members is recorded, both during and after the project, allowing everyone the opportunity to report on lessons learned in a way that will contribute to all future projects. 

 

Verto software can help you manage the pain points in your projects. To find out more, contact us at info@vertocloud.co.uk or register for our 14-day free trial


5 steps for managing project risk

person tightens carabiner in preparation for climbing

 

Excellent project managers are not scared of risks. Far from it. They know that identifying, prioritising and managing risks can actually be what makes their project more likely to succeed. Risk can sound like a negative word, but risk management is a positive, proactive and essential process. Good project managers will incorporate risk management into every stage of the project life cycle, using these five important steps. 

 

1. Identify risks  

 

Potential risks should be identified early on, in the planning phase. Risks should be assessed with an open mind, and feedback should be sought from team members, stakeholders and outside experts. Early risk assessments are all about considering what could go wrong, what impact this might have, and how likely it is. You are trying to identify, and ultimately plan for, possible but undesirable scenarios here, so it is important to be honest and realistic, rather than overly optimistic. Identifying risk does not equal failure. 

 

2. Get to know your risks 

 

Once you have identified risks, it’s time to analyse, prioritise and document them. The better you know your risks, the easier it will be to respond to them. Once you fully understand the nature of a risk, you can put plans in place to mitigate it. You can assign it a priority, based on the impact it will have and how likely it is to occur.  Devise a process to monitor it and predict when it might happen. You can also document it so that everyone on the team knows that the risk exists and should be tracked.  

 

3. Plan your responses 

 

The most important reason to get to know your risks is so that you can plan for them effectively. Planning risk responses means taking a decision on what needs to be done. You may need to take steps to avoid the risk, or put a process in place to deal with the risk if it happens. It may be possible to reduce the likelihood of the risk, or minimise its impact. It is also useful to assign ownership of the risk. Who is responsible for monitoring it? Who is responsible for dealing with it if it happens? This should all be documented so that everyone knows who to turn to regarding any given risk. 

 

4. Communicate with your team 

 

Documenting your risks in a centralised system is a great way to communicate with your team. The right systems and software can ensure that all relevant team members are aware of risks and risk management strategies, and can be easily updated as risks become moreor less, likely. Any updates to the planned responses to risks should also be clearly documented. 

 

5. Don’t ignore positive risks 

 

Modern risk approaches include assessing positive risks, also known as project opportunities. These are uncertain possibilities that could have a beneficial impact. Monitoring them, and taking advantage of them, can help your project be completed faster, cheaper and more effectively.  

 

To find out how Verto project management software can help with your risk management strategies contact us at info@vertocloud.com or register for our 14 day free trial!

 

 


person pours coffee into cup on table with phrase ugh on side to denote the despair of a work morning

Mess is Stress. Change that with the right tools.

 

The goal of project management is to take a project from the planning stage to completion –smoothly, on time, and on budget. The process is supposed to take the stress out of running projects, not add to it.  

Mess is stress and chaotic project management can cause more problems than no structure at all. Having the right tools and software makes all the difference and if mess is stress then organisation of your projects should bring you closer to feeling on top of things.

 

Organise into one clear space

Some traditional project management approaches are surprisingly messy. The mess is often in the paperwork”, even if the paperwork is technically not paper at all any more. Digital paperwork can add a whole new layer of stress and mess to running your project, often in the form of version control. 

 

When you digitalise traditional project management techniques, version control can become a problem. Spreadsheets, data and documents need to be constantly updated during the project life cycle, and this means that there are often several versions of the same file floating around. No matter how clearly labelled these files are, it is easy for a team member to end up working from outdated information, which can impact the entire project. 

 

Email doesn’t help. When team members email each other, the email simply goes from one team member to another, and, of course, whoever else is cc’d in that email. With very small project teams, it might be possible to cc everyone. With larger ones, it becomes completely impractical, and time is often wasted simply working out exactly who needs to receive communication of each update.  With Verto, everything is contained within one system meaning your work continues uninterrupted.

 

Find your project management zen

Project management tools such as Verto can take the mess, and stress, out of your project management. They enable clear organisation of information with everything in one place. They create a simple, easy-to-access work management hub for your project, which can be updated in real time by any team member.  

 

The benefits are significant, and concrete. Each team member spends less time tracking down vital information, checking that they have the correct versions of documents, and waiting to be notified of a finished task. More time is saved in not having to wait for approvals, or hunt around for data buried in spreadsheets or old emails.  

 

Updates are instant, and available to every team member. Using a project management platform such as Verto means that go-to information is all in one place, in its most recent version. Everyone can see at a glance what they’re responsible for, and who is responsible for other key tasks.  

 

Team members find that the right software takes the stress out of their individual roles. They can focus on delivering the work needed to achieve outcomes, without getting distracted with constant one-to-one communication, face-to-face meetings and tedious reporting tasks. The whole team is kept in the loop, with clear dashboards providing an immediate visual picture of the project, or indeed, multiple projects.     

 

Verto project management software gives teams all the tools they need to manage their projects easily and in one place. To find out more, contact us at info@vertocloud.co.ukor register for our free 14 day trial! 


7 ways to stop your projects from managing you

two peoples hands giving impression of two people studying reports on desk with mobile phone, marker pens

Who wants to be a slave to their work?  Managing projects is complex, requiring circus level juggling skills.  Left to it's own devices it is attention seeking and time draining and can end up managing you .  It's easy to to find yourself lost in a world of chasing down information, managing data from multiple sources, in many formats and trying to get a clear picture of just what is going on.

 

 

Help is at hand.  The right project management software can make all the difference when it comes to successful project completion. Software can provide solutions to all the major pain points that all project management teams need to address.  Here we look at 7 ways project management software can help you get on top of your projects.

 

1.Organisation

 

Software provides solutions to all the common organisational issues that every project experiences. It facilitates a centralised system, accessible by everyone involved, with clear dashboards showing project progress, next steps, timelines and budgets. This clear visual overview of the project can be updated at the touch of a button with each step forward that the project team takes.

 

2. Accountability

 

Within any project management team, accountability is vital. The right software system provides a transparent, easily accessible and updateable task list, indicating who is responsible for what, what has been done, and what is overdue. One-touch reporting allows team members to inform the entire team of project updates instantaneously.

 

3. Consolidation

 

Software can consolidate project data with relative ease. It keeps all information in one place, with important data clearly displayed, and all files automatically updated to the most recent version. Communication can also be centralised through the system, cutting out the need for countless emails and face-to-face meetings, where only the people involved know what was discussed.

 

4. Follow-up

 

Following up on tasks becomes both rarer and easier with the right software in place. Managers can see at a glance which tasks are complete, and which are still pending, and easily check what the status is on anything for which they are waiting. Team members can update the system in real time, so there is no time wasted in chasing up people who may or may not have completed tasks because of a lack of clarity.

 

5. Visibility

 

One of the strongest benefits of project management software is the ability to create a clear overview of an entire project. Dashboards can be customised, with all key information represented in one place. Managers can track project progress from their desk in a fraction of the time it might previously have taken to pull together an overview of the project, and the overview is complete, with no missing documents, reports or data floating around.

 

6. Evaluation

 

Ongoing evaluation is essential to good project management. With advanced software, evaluation can be built into the system, with things such as current spend, projected timelines, progress towards desired outcomes, and other key performance indicators incorporated into the system, so the progress of the project is obvious. Detailed records of every phase of the project are logged, allowing for an easy assessment of the success and cost-effectiveness of every project.

 

7. Feedback

 

Feedback on a finished project can also be facilitated by project management software. Indeed, software systems can be set up for built-in feedback. Communication between managers and team members is recorded, both during and after the project, allowing everyone the opportunity to report on lessons learned in a way that will contribute to all future projects.

Verto software can help you manage the pain points in your projects so they don't overpower you. To find out more, contact us at info@vertocloud.co.uk or register for our 14 day free trial!


Apples for apples, quality and price

Quality and price – how can we better focus on delivering quality outcomes?

Every project aims to deliver high-quality outcomes at an acceptable price. This is not a new challenge, but recent developments are making it more troublesome than ever in many areas, and in particular when it comes to public services. Across the UK, local councils are having to make better spending decisions in order to cope with constant cuts while trying to maintain quality services at the same time.  So how can we better focus on delivering high quality outcomes?

 

Balancing quality and price is something that can be learned from previous successful projects. Unfortunately, we don’t always get the chance to focus on them, especially in challenging times. In a recent Guardian articlethe director of the UKs Government Outcomes Lab, Mara Airoldi, claimed that years of focusing on the complexities of Brexit has deflected government attention from many health and social projects. In order to move forward and focus on delivering quality outcomes at a low cost, it may be time for central government to pay attention to the various projects that have been successfully run by local councils, the NHS, and other public service providers. 

 

Here at Verto, we are aware of how well some local initiatives are working. We know from our extensive work with local government and across the NHS that with the right systems in place, projects can be successfully completed to a high quality and on modest budgetsHow can project managers better focus on delivering high-quality outcomes at an acceptable price? 

 

1. Pay attention to pricing from the outset 

 

Poor pricing at the beginning of a project leads to problems as the project progresses. This is exacerbated in climate of austerity and spending cuts. Low budgets make it tempting for project teams using outside suppliers and contractors to always go for the lowest price. This in turn tempts contractors and suppliers to quote an unrealistically low price, knowing that this is the way to secure the contract.  

 

When your project is relying on outside supply chains that have underestimated costs, you will often face delays and issues with quality. As those contractors struggle to meet their commitments, they may sub-contract at low cost in order to try to meet original targets. If contractors and suppliers do deliver on time, they may have cut costs somewhere along the way, sacrificing quality in order to meet their budget. 

 

Pricing realistically can avoid the problems of quality dropping as overstretched contractors struggle to deliver. While it is tempting to look for the lowest possible price, delays and low-quality deliverables will ultimately drive up the cost of the project anyway.  

 

2. Clear roles and responsibilities 

 

When quality is sacrificed to keep costs down, a culture of blame can develop. Team members are unwilling to accept responsibility for problems and delays that they see as unavoidable due to the fact that they were working with limited resources. By ensuring that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and documented, it is possible to keep blame and conflict under control.  

 

Each team member should know exactly which part of the project they have ownership of. The sense of ownership can help to ensure that team members do the very best they can with the part of the project for which they are responsible. This may not avoid cost versus quality issues completely, but will support individuals to produce the very best quality they can, with the budget they have, rather than constantly shifting blame onto other people. Clearly understanding in advance what your deliverable is, and what the budget for that deliverable is, can make team members surprisingly resourceful. 

 

3. Understand expectations 

 

It is important that all team members understand what is expected of them. Only then can they work together to produce what they need to, in order to satisfy clients, end users and other stakeholders. Producing a high-quality outcome at a low price is challenging, so it is vital to avoid wasting any resources on things that are not actually required. Not everything that costs money is necessarily adding value to the project – or it may be adding value that is not important to the stakeholders. Project managers should, of course, establish desired outcomes and expectations at the start of the project, and plan to reach those outcomes at the lowest possible cost. Constantly updating stakeholders and clarifying expectations allows the team to avoid extra costs that may be adding limited value to the project, or providing benefits that have become less relevant to end users. 

 

4. Communicate effectively 

 

In order to constantly clarify expectations, effective, real-time communication is vital. The right project management software can make this almost effortless, with constant project updates available to all relevant parties.  

 

Communication within the project team can also be key to producing high-quality outcomes without running over budget. Good communication can help avoid duplicated effort and minimise delays between interdependent tasks. It can allow team members to predict what is needed in advance, and make the best use of time, skills and resources to move the project forward as smoothly as possible. Time is, of course, money, and when budgets are tight, using time efficiently is an excellent way to keep quality as high as possible. 

 

5. Manage change carefully 

 

Every project is subject to change as it progresses. This is given, and is also an opportunity to reduce costs without sacrificing quality. Sudden or unpredictable changes to the project will result in delays, confusion and often a temporarily stalled project, causing budgets to get out of hand quickly, even though no actual progress is being made. 

 

Well-managed change can have a positive impact on overall quality while keeping costs lowAn honest risk assessment and effective risk management plan can mean that changes to the project are dealt with so well that there are rarely significant delays or extra costs. An assessment of positive risks will also allow the team to identify opportunities that arise during the project that may even improve quality or cut costs. 

 

Verto project management software gives teams all the tools they need to manage their projects efficiently. To find out more contact us at info@vertocloud.co.uk or register for our 14 day free trial! 

 

 

 


What makes a successful project manager?

 Successful project management professionals who fast-track up the career ladder tend to have a few things in common. They deliver successful outcomes, keep their stakeholders happy and help bring in projects on time and on budget. Obviously, training and experience influence how well members of the PMO perform, but there are some habits anyone can cultivate if they want to be a successful project manager.  

 

 

Pick your team strategically 

Great project managers pick the right team for the project. Not just the best individuals, but the right team. Know who is in your team, what they can do and how they can fit in with all the other team members and their skills.  

 

Be a people person  

 Now that you have a great team, manage them well. Get to know them. Use their skills. Develop good team building skills. Learn to communicate, motivate and reward your team members. Use everyone’s strengths in both planning and implementing the necessary tasks. Take responsibility for your part in any problems and give credit where credit is due. 

 

Manage issues efficiently 

All projects are affected by issues you didn’t plan for. However, counter-intuitively, you can plan for the unexpected. Good project managers have processes in place to quickly assess and respond to issues so that problems are dealt with promptly and efficiently. This is where a good project management system comes into play.   Verto gets rid of time consuming admin such as trawling through email trails, scrutinizing spreadsheets and documents and constant vigilence around version control - leaving project managers to do those things that are going highlight their abilities and profile.  In short, by working smarter, successful project managers learn where to use their skills to maximum advantage.  They know that using technology to take out the admin slog enables them to focus on the areas that deliver results. 

 

Track time and cost

One of the most common reasons a project is assessed as unsuccessful is that it exceeded its budget. Tracking costs can allow you to predict and avoid budget overspend or plan for it by reallocating resources.  

 The other common reason a project is seen as a failure is when it significantly overruns its deadline. Time is like money. It needs to be closely monitored so that extra resources can be allocated to tasks that might otherwise slow down the entire project. 

 

Plan for change 

Change that affects a project should not be a threat to project completion. In fact, the possibility of change is one of those variables that should be planned for even though you may not be sure exactly how or when it will present itself. Good project managers are flexible and resourceful. If they need to make changes to the original plan, they use the opportunity to improve on the original plan. 

 

Update the schedule  

Keeping your schedule updated is perhaps the most important communication task that keeps a project moving forward. When things change, make sure that everyone affected knows about it. This includes the stakeholders as well as the team members.   With an integrated project management tool such as Verto, updating the project schedule can be done and live in a couple of clicks, with stakeholders notified,  resource plans updated all without breaking stride.

 

Manage risk 

Identifying, assessing and managing risk is a vital part of any project. It is also ongoing. It is not enough to identify potential risks at the beginning of the project and then simply monitor them. Risk assessment should be carried out regularly throughout the project life cycle to identify and manage new risks as they arise. 

 

Deliver 

Perhaps the most obvious mark of a good project manager is the ability to deliver the desired outcomes. Whatever happens, great project managers deliver the changes they promised, every time.   

Verto is a system that makes these things look easy, making you look good and keeping you on the fast track.  For more information and to see Verto in action contact us on info@vertocloud.com or sign up for a  free trial

 


10 ways a project management approach is helpful

 A project management approach can have a large impact on the success of any project. However, many managers are reluctant to re-position their team, approach or budget to focus on project management. They may argue that it is expensive and that they can manage their own team on a certain project just as they do on a day-to-day basis.  This approach, however, overlooks the vital differences between routine management and project management and how a project management approach is actually helpful to achieving successful delivery. 

 

 

 

1. Avoid the admin time drain

Running a project without having a project management approach in place is usually a false economy. Projects involve a lot of moving parts. They require constant communication and collaboration, and they can bring with them specific issues involving many team members working, sometimes remotely, to update data and documents. This means that issues such as version control can quickly get out of hand. 

 

Working on a project without collaboration and project management software in place can unnecessarily complicate circumstances.  If you are relying on email, spreadsheets, documents and calendars to try and stay on top of the initiation, progress and performance of your projects then you are having juggle a lot of complex admin.  That's just managing the information, never mind reporting on it.  All of this saps time, time that could be spent more usefully doing more interesting and productive things. 

 

2. Keep track

Having an easy to use collaboration, reporting and management tool to hand can solve problems that you did not even know that you had. Project management software will simplify your project, especially if you are: 

  • Communicating remotely  
  • Sharing large files 
  • Regularly updating centralised information and data 
  • Emailing attachments  
  • Amending and annotating documents  
  • Trying to manage version control   
  • Manually creating reports  
  • Waiting for the completion of certain tasks so that other tasks can start 
  • Constantly pursued by people chasing you for approvals so that they can move on with their work  

 

A lack of project management techniques and software leads to a lack of clarity on who is doing what as well as what is important and what is urgent or not. Without proper project management in place, it is almost impossible to work out how different tasks involved in the project fit together, who is waiting for whom and what needs to be a priority for the project to move forward. 

 

Good project management greatly increases the chances of delivering a project on time, within budget and with all its objectives met. However, there is more to the process. With an effective project management approach in place, the benefits go beyond simply delivering what you promised when you promised it. There are other advantages that help the project run smoothly and reduce stress for everyone involved. 

 

3. Make Quick and effective decisions

Waiting for decisions and experiencing confusion over who handles specific decisions are major causes of delay with many projects. Good project management clearly lays out whose approval is necessary for which decisions and only puts relevant decisions in front of the team members that need to see them. This means that decision-making is quick and effective throughout the project’s life cycle, allowing it to move quickly from one stage to the next. 

 

4. Stakeholders know what to expect 

A project management approach ensures that stakeholders stay informed of progress, delays and key changes as the project progresses. This keeps everyone satisfied and enables stakeholders and team members to agree on what they will deliver, even if this changes slightly (or even drastically) from the objectives laid out in the original business case. 

 

5. Problems resolve quickly 

A good project management approach incorporates risk management processes. This means that risks undergo regular assessment, anticipation and preparationEasy, real-time communication is another feature of good project management software, and it allows both current and potential risks to stay on everyone’s radar. This lets all team members be proactive about problem-solving and facilitates engaging talk about the problems encountered and the solutions implemented. 

 

6. Team members are more satisfied and motivated 

Controlled projects with few surprises are more enjoyable and satisfying to work on. When team members are all working collaboratively and proactively, it leads to a happy, motivated and efficient environment that saves time, money and stress for both managers and clients. Of course,  the other major benefit that flows from this is increased productivity.  Given we are all working in a climate of doing more for the same or less, a project management approach coupled with the right delivery tool means less time doing time consuming admin and more precious time doing more productive and worthwhile activities  -  undoubtedly helpful for the individual, team and organisation.

 

7. Controlled scope and costs  

Badly managed scope is a major cause of projects over-running their budget and timescale. Costs can quickly escalate when a project has no clear definition or constant monitoring. Project management software allows for the tracking of costs in real time and a solid overview of the allocation of resources. This facilitates proactive budget management as the project progresses. 

 

8. Dealing with variables 

Projects rarely run smoothly from inception to delivery. One of the criticisms of project management in today’s dynamic and fast-changing work environment is that it is too rigid and inflexible. This certainly does not need to be the case, however.. Even old-style project management included techniques to monitor, re-assess and adapt circumstances according to variables that were likely to crop up but unpredictable. Modern project management software makes this process easier than ever, allowing projects to stay on track overall despite situations that impact certain tasks and processes. 

 

9. Built-in quality control  

Good project management techniques and software can ensure that the quality of deliverables is consistent and sufficient as measured against pre-defined objectives. Gated phases are part of the process and involve the assessment of quality, applicability and return on investment. These phases provide teams with the time and processes to examine and test outputs regularly as the project moves from one stage to the next. 

 

10. Deliver real value  

A good project management approach allows for strategic alignment. The project manager, team members and stakeholders can track not only what they deliver but also how that aligns with the strategic framework for the entire project. They can put processes in place to monitor pre-defined deliverables and assess and evaluate whether the project is actually delivering real value for the organisation. Properly applied project management techniques ensure that the goals of an individual project remain closely aligned with the strategic goals of the company. 

 

Great project management software for all team members helps deliver successful and stress-free projects. To find out how Verto project management software can help with your next project, you can experience the software in action via our demo or  free trial. Contact us at info@vertocloud.com to find out more.


When high profile projects experience delay, where do you turn?

Good project management can help guard against delays in project completion. It is not unusual, however, for projects to experience delays, even when they have significant resources behind them. So when high profile projects experience delay, where do you turn? 

 

A recent report by the National Audit Office  attempted to assess the success of over 300 projects that left the Government Major Projects Portfolio between 2011 and 2017. The resulting report found that even in the case of these strategically significant government projects, incomplete data made it difficult to assess whether the projects were completed successfully and on time. In short, poor records and reporting make it difficult to keep track of whether major government projects are delivering on their objectives, according to the NAO.

 

Organise for results

Here at Verto, we are aware from our extensive work with Local Government and across the NHS how vital it is that complex government projects are closely tracked at every stage. Managing time and avoiding major delays is a particularly common challenge, and one that it is difficult to address in a large, complex and far-reaching project environment unless the right tools and processes are in place from the beginning.

The bigger the project, the more difficult it is to ensure every outcome is delivered on time. Unfortunately, the bigger the project, the higher the cost of delayed completion, making delays as much of a budget issue as a time issue. Projects that run over deadline tend to run over budget, and the larger the project, the more significant this becomes.

Using the right project management software can help project teams to both avoid and plan for delays. It is essential to put processes and communication channels in place that will allow everyone involved to know who to turn to, who to inform and how to reallocate resources quickly in the event of a potential delay. There are several things to do to enable your team to manage large and complex projects while also dealing with real and potential delays effectively.

 

Set realistic deadlines

Unrealistic deadlines are often an unacknowledged issue behind high profile project delays. Deadlines are important to guide the team towards their milestones in a timely matter, but constantly working towards unrealistic deadlines puts teams under excessive pressure, lowers morale and makes project delays inevitable.

When setting deadlines, project managers have a responsibility to their team. The team will work best when deadlines are designed to realistically fit with the actual work required and resources available, incorporating all relevant constraints and extenuating circumstances and reflecting all risks and priorities. In addition, those deadlines should be carefully defined and documented as part of the project definition process. The specific results needed, and the value being produced at each deadline should be clear in order to guide and motivate the team.  Importantly, those deadlines should be capable of being monitored and maintained by the project manager, incorporating changes to the project as they are approved and implemented.

 

Plan for delays

While project delays are seen by stakeholders as undesirable, they are common and, most project managers would admit, to be expected. When we talk of “unexpected” project delays, we generally mean not knowing when or why the delay would happen, not that there is surprise over the fact that something happened to delay the project.

Some delays are more predictable than others. Late delivery from outside sources or contractors, for example, can easily delay a project. Some delays are highly improbable and much more unpredictable. It is impossible, and undesirable, to factor every possible delay into a project schedule. Doing so would result in a project being deemed so time consuming and costly that it would never be approved.

Predictable delays can certainly be factored into the project by using a risk management plan. Less predictable delays may not be an established part of the documented risk management plan, but project teams can still do everything in their power to plan for the unexpected.

 

Expect the unexpected

Unforeseeable delays happen. Expect them to crop up even if you do not know what the source or timing of these delays will be. Factor in extra time, budget and resources to deal with the unexpected. Have contingency plans in place. Know which resources could be temporarily reallocated to the project if needed. Get familiar with team members skills and capabilities in case human resources need to be reallocated at short notice.

Monitor the project carefully and communicate often. Even unpredictable delays can sometimes be predicted shortly before they happen, giving the team extra days or hours to respond and cutting down on the length and cost of the delay.

 

Act fast to minimise damage

Once a delay is inevitable, act immediately to mitigate any damage. Acknowledge the missed deadline, take responsibility and calculate what it will mean for the project. The sooner this is done, the sooner the business case can be updated to reflect the new reality, and adjustments can be made to future deadlines to ensure everyone is aware of any changes to their own responsibilities. Resources can be reallocated and approvals sought for any budget extensions.

Inform appropriate stakeholders immediately. The way unexpected delays are managed can have a big impact on how the finished project is perceived. When high profile projects are delayed problems often stem from no one knowing who to turn to and who to inform.  All relevant stakeholders should be updated promptly. Who this is depends on the project but may include the project sponsor, steering committee, vendors and customers. Often, when a project experiences a few minor delays that are immediately communicated to stakeholders and incorporated into the schedule, the stakeholders will not perceive that the project completed late, even though the completion date was different from the one in the original business case. A project that experiences delays may still be perceived as successful as long as delays are well managed.

 

Verto project management software gives teams the tools they need to effectively manage project delays. To find out more, register for our  free 14 day trial or contact us at info@vertocloud.com


How to evaluate projects and manage risk

How to evaluate projects and manage risk? Risk management goes hand in hand with project management. How smoothly a project runs will always factor on how well risk is identified, assessed and planned for. It is necessary to manage risk effectively in order to avoid and reduce risks that pose a threat to project completion and success.  

Projects are liable to change throughout the project life cycle. For this reason, risk management should be an integrated and ongoing part of project management. You do not identify potential risks once, plan for them and then forget about risk. Evaluating new risks as the project is progressing should be one of the ongoing activities of the project manager. On a regular basis, the PM should be running through the following tasks. 

 

Identify risks

Identifying and evaluating risks is a constant process. It requires complete honesty on the project manager’s part. There is no room for a ‘head in the sand’ approach to risk management. No matter how inconvenient a risk is, it needs to be acknowledged, and in evaluating risks, it is important to be honest again. It may be a small risk, but there is no sense in pretending that it is negligible when it is not. Correctly identifying and evaluating risks makes the next step easier. 

 

Document risks

Well-documented risks make planning easier for the whole team. A risk log, listing and describing risks along with the predicted impact of the risk and the mitigating actions that could or should be taken is invaluable.   Everyone involved should be able to access and easily update this risk log. This allows the whole team to see at a glance not only what risks exist but also what can be done about them and what has already been done by other team members. 

 

Prioritise risks

Not all risks are equal. In order to prioritise risks, the project manager needs to look at the impact the risk could have in terms of cost, time and the quality of the final deliverable. This needs to be assessed alongside another variable: how likely is it that the risk will actually occur? A risk that is very likely to occur but will have a very low impact may actually be assigned a lower priority than a less likely risk that would have a much bigger impact. 

 

Plan responses

Every risk should be planned for. The plan should include what can be done to avoid the risk and what can be done to reduce its impact. Planning responses to risks will also help identify where time and resources should be spent within the risk management process. If the actions needed to avoid that big-impact, low-probability risk are minimal and cheap, then it may make sense to avoid that risk and accept or reduce the very low-impact, high-probability risk. Ongoing, well-documented risk management will often make the next action crystal clear to everyone involved.>

Verto provides a whole programme view so you can plan, assess risks and stay focused on project delivery.  Sign up for your 14 day free trial to check it out or email us at info@vertocloud.com  for more information!


5 tips to help your organisation love your PMO

 

Your programme management office may be doing a valuable job, but not everyone in the organisation will appreciate it or even understand what it is.  Help your organisation love your PMO by making sure you are doing these key things.

 

Ask for feedback and respond

 

If the role of the PMO is misunderstood or unappreciated within the organisation there may be valid reasons.  Consider surveying staff from all departments to find out what their feelings toward the PMO are and why. Ask them what their challenges are when implementing projects.  Would they volunteer for project teams?  Could they recommend being on a project team to a colleague?

 

Be prepared for negative feedback and respond to it. Sometimes, improving what needs to be improved will radically alter other departments’ view of you and positively impact how well-received, well-implemented and efficient future projects are.

 

Keep it simple

 

Try to demystify the project management process so that it makes sense to others.  You can achieve this by simply using laymen’s terms. Avoid complicated project management terminology that others might see as jargon. By all means, use the terminology you all understand within the PMO.   Just make sure that when you communicate with other employees, you tailor your language, process and tools to be easily grasped by everyone across the organisation.

 

Add value and demonstrate it

 

The role of the PMO is to add value to the wider organisation. You know this, and your business case should specify exactly what value you are adding and how. However, the benefits you are providing may not be self-evident or may not be evident until the end of the project. Projects involve change, and most employees don’t like change. Focus on both the value you are adding to the organisation and demonstrating that added value to everyone across the organisation.

 

Serve the wider organisation

 

The PMO is a service function for the organisation, so live to serve.  Ask employees what they need from you, how you can help and if they have suggestions for new projects to be considered.  Sometimes, if your PMO is unpopular within the organisation, it’s because many employees only ever hear from you when you are chasing an action or deliverable that they are responsible for. Turn this around by constantly checking on what you can contribute as well.

 

Let your organisation’s values drive your actions

 

Get clear on the values of your organisation and integrate them into everything you do. This creates cooperation and cohesion throughout the entire organisation.. Plus it helps employees understand why you are taking the actions you are or requiring certain actions of them. If you can always tie project aims back to company values, it will be easier to demonstrate the benefits of each project.

 

The aim is to have everyone within the organisation on the same page. By implementing these tips, the PMO can become a valued and appreciated part of any organisation.

 

Verto brings together plans, people and processes in one place so your PMO can start to feel the love!  Contact us for a free trial or for more information email us at info@vertocloud.com