Newsletter: February Edition Print

Across the Board

How can you support our chapter military veterans program by Jennifer Evans, Board Member at Large

This past year Project Management International formally launched PMI's Chapter Military Veterans Program: Preparing the U.S. Military for   Project Management Careers.  The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter is making a commitment to take a leadership role in fulfilling this mission and  we need our Members to step up and support this important program.

Many of us, as project and program managers, have worked with veterans in the corporate world and hiring managers can confidently state that, in general, vets have a proven track record to be one of the better PM hiring choices due to various career experiences such as diversity, adaptability, high performance under pressure, security clearances, educated, tech-savvy, strong ability to read situations, and a positive can-do attitude. During 2016 our Military Liaison, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Williams, who is the Professor of Military Science in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program at the University of San Francisco, has worked with a small core team which includes myself, our Business Development Manager and the Chief Executive Officer, to develop an outreach program to solicit Bay Area transitioning veterans.  We are now ready to identify our existing military population within the chapter and determine if those individuals are willing to give back by volunteering to be a mentor.  

The Military Mentor position is informal and is open to multiple volunteers within the chapter. A critical role the Military Mentor will take on is assisting service members or veterans in translating their skills and experience during the certification application process. Many times, an application is rejected due to the military acronyms and language used on the application that does not “translate” well in the civilian world. It is imperative that the Military Mentors are able to assist with developing the right language and verbiage to effectively convey the military service member or veteran’s experience to civilian job duties. The time commitment is a 1-year term, in accordance with chapter’s policies and procedures estimated at 4–8 hours/month 

During Q1-2017, as a part of our kickoff program, we want our Military Mentor volunteers to answer the challenge to #GiveThem20 (http://givethem20.org/).  Please consider making a commitment to support this program.  Please note: we are looking to host a virtual military roundtable in the first week of March, please see the calendar of events below! Please send inquiries to either ceo@pmisfbac.orgjennifer.evans@pmisfbac.org  or Lt. Col. Sean Williams at militarydirector@pmisfbac.org

As we all know, the world continues to change faster than ever, and the companies that we work for see military professionals as advanced change management experts routinely running cross-cultural missions (projects), employing strategy, logistics, teamwork, and execution know-how that gets the job done. PMI SFBAC, with your support, will be offering the Military Mentorship Program to assist in PM-oriented military-to-civilian transition and we need you to step forward and put your boots on the ground to help cement our Chapter’s foot print in this important program. For more information please click on our Chapter’s web site http://pmisfbac.org/Military_Outreach

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7 Essential Project Management Skills for 2017

Project management is no more immune to sweeping changes in the workplace than any other aspect of business and technology. In fact, it can be argued that project managers (and the teams they lead) must be more sensitive to emerging trends, in order to stay ahead of developments that can affect the companies where they work.

Here’s a look at key project management trends already underway in 2016 and expected to continue into 2017 and beyond.

1.) Long-range strategy takes precedence over individual projects

Traditionally, project management emphasized completion of individual projects aligned with short-term business objectives. With sharp increases in competition for market share, as well as finite resources of time and money, there’s a new emphasis on long-range thinking in project management. How can project management teams determine the best ways to achieve overall strategic goals?

One answer, according to veteran project manager Moira Alexander, is selecting individuals “for goal-centric projects based on their high-value core strengths in relation to business requirements, instead of selecting project team members in the traditional style of departmental representation.”

Obviously, this requires a shift in thinking among project managers to look at the company’s big picture, rather than just a single department’s needs and objectives.

2.) Shifts in hierarchical thinking that emphasizes a free flow of ideas
Speaking of shifts in thinking, project managers will be called upon to move beyond operational hierarchies in order to take advantage of individual employee talents and knowledge throughout the company. Too many large companies still adhere to a “top-down” approach, insisting that strategic and creative insights can only come from senior-level executives. Forward-thinking leaders and project managers understand the best results come from an unrestricted flow of ideas throughout the organization, including those emerging from individuals with diverse cultural backgrounds.

3.) A growing need to develop soft skills, in additional to technical training in project management. Increasingly, project managers and their teams need to excel in the following areas in order to better manage individual and group interactions:

  • Written skills
  • Verbal skills
  • The art of active listening

 

4.) Ongoing challenge of entering into the profession of project management
Those endeavoring to become project managers continue to face a challenge in landing their first project management position. “Employers demand experience,” notes Duncan Haughey of Project Smart. “Most are reluctant to take on inexperienced project managers,” he adds, suggesting there’s “no easy answer or formula to entering the profession.”

Achieving project management certification, such as Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification or Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), remains an essential first step for all aspiring to become project managers. Such qualifications, Haughey adds, “show a willingness to advance in the profession” — making oneself a more attractive candidate in the eyes of employers.

5.) Increased reliance on remote workers and collaboration in the cloud
As employees become more mobile and geographically dispersed, there will be greater emphasis than ever before on collaboration in the cloud. Remote employees working as part of a project management team must be diligent in maintaining strict security policies and procedures, as well as proficient in virtual meeting protocol.

The ability to think on your feet and anticipate the unexpected are also increasingly sought-after skills in remote employees. Being able to troubleshoot and address technology disruptions on their own will make such employees extremely desirable in the view of potential employers.

Businesses that pay attention to these trends will likely see more productive and efficient project management in the weeks and months to come.

For more information see more articles here:
https://pmtrainingclass.com/top-five-trends-transforming-project-management/

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Can You Predict If A Project Is Going To Be Successful?

We all have failed projects. But what if we could predict how likely a project was to be successful. Can we?

There are certainly some factors that we would all agree are definite indicators of a project’s probability of being successful. Take two projects, identical in every way, except one has all resources utilised at 200% of capacity and the other has all resources utilised at 50% of capacity. Everything else is identical. There is universal agreement that the project with over-utilisation of resources is less likely to be successful than the project with under-utilisation of resources. In this very abstract scenario, project success has an element of predictability.

But that doesn’t mean a project with more resource availability has a higher probability of being successful, than a project with lower resource availability, even if all other things are equal. For example, is a project with resources utilised at 51% of capacity, more likely to be successful, than a project with resources utilised at 52% of capacity? The difference is probably negligible. Both projects are equally likely to be successful. But what about a project with resources utilised at 100% of capacity, compared to a project with resources utilised at 101% of capacity? The difference is the same as in the previous example (1%), but is the effect on probability of success different?

So now we have the situation where there is a tipping point beyond which a project’s likelihood of success starts to change, as well as another tipping point later, after which changes have no discernible effect (projects with a 500% or 501% of resource utilisation, for example, are equally likely to be successful). This would give us a success curve, as shown in figure 1.Jacklin 011017

This leads to the next logical question. What are the values of the tipping points? Of course, that question we can never truly find the answer to. You can’t set up identical projects with different values of resource availability, keep everything else equal, and then run the projects to completion to see which ones were successful and which ones failed. Maybe that means project success is not predictable? Or is there another way?1

Like we have developed the argument around resource utilisation and shown how that could affect project success rates, there are other variables that we can develop a similar argument for. Keep everything else equal and only alter the amount of budget contingency; Keep everything else equal and only alter the amount of slack on the critical path; Keep everything else equal and only alter the amount of scope creep. All these scenarios will develop along similar arguments to the resource availability example. Whilst we can’t provide absolute measurements and can’t define our tipping points, we can at least develop a theoretical model, a probability of success curve, for how probability of success will alter depending on different values.

Before we come on to how we can use this, we need to think about the effect of combinatorial factors. So far, in all our examples, we have only changed one factor and kept everything else equal to derive our success curves. In our real projects, there are thousands of moving parts and thousands of factors that we might want to take account of. These factors change values at the same time. What effect does that have? Does it have any effect?

If we have a project with 95% resource utilisation and -30% budget contingency, is that more, or less, likely to be successful than a project with 95% resource utilisation and a 30% scope creep? Are scope creep and resource utilisation the deadly duo and when seen in combination, there is an accelerator effect and projects are even less likely to be successful? And how can we measure and validate this?

There is no doubt that combinatorial factors make the whole analysis of project success a good deal more complicated. Measurement and validation of any model, very difficult to start with, now becomes almost impossible and our hopes of finding a model to predict project success are fading. But there are some assumptions and techniques we can use to give us a glimmer of hope.

If we were to build such a model that predicted project success, what would we use it for? It turns out, that an answer to this question, could help us build a useful model for at least one scenario. A model that ranks project success, across a range of projects, relative to each other, would be useful to help us understand which of our projects, across our whole portfolio, are least likely to be successful. Those are the projects that we might review, change, or keep a careful eye on as they progressed. In this scenario, an absolute ‘score’, a ‘percentage probability of success’, doesn’t matter. What matters, is a comparative score. We are only interested in those projects that are low, compared to others.

Our work is simplified considerably with a comparative model. The position of our tipping points does not need to be as exact as the comparative differences still apply wherever the values of the tipping points are set.2 The probability of success ‘score’ for different points along our success curve no longer matter either.

As we are only building a comparative model, it’s the difference between the scores for different projects that matter, not the absolute scores. So now, if a project has a 100% resource utilisation, it doesn’t matter what ‘success score’ is given to this point, what matters is the comparison of this score to other scores.

There is still complexity in combining factors, which absolutely needs to be done in any model of worth. No one would argue that project success is entirely dependent on one single factor. Since the ‘multiplier’ effect of different combinations cannot be safely evaluated (you can’t prove that factor A, in combination with factor B, is more likely to lead to a failed project), the simplest thing to do is to combine factors in the least aggressive way (i.e. additive not multiplicative) and to combine all factors in a consistent way. The model will not be perfect, but it will still be valid as a comparative tool to compare project A’s chance of success against project B’s chance of success.

So, what do we end up with? We have a very simplified model that gives us the ability to compare a group of projects against each other, to show which ones are more likely to be successful and which ones are less likely to be successful. It’s not perfect and there’s still work to be done to work out which factors we should be including (1000s is not practical. But do we need 100s to have a good working model, or are 10s of factors enough?). But with enough data to analyse, this problem can be solved. There are also assumptions and simplifications that we’ve had to use to get to any model. Despite the limitations, the model is something we can use in our evaluation of projects - another tool to help us deliver successful projects.

Any model of project success becomes even more useful when we apply human interference and irrationality in to the model, which is the environment that a real project must be delivered in to, but that’s a blog post for another day.
What would you do if you knew your project had a 35% probability of being successful?

Footnotes
There is a separate argument that it might not matter. The rate of change, in probability of success, at either side of the tipping point, is so small, that if you were to build a model and set the tipping point at the ‘wrong’ place, the effect would be negligible anyway. This argument degrades once you set the tipping point a lot further away from the place it ‘should’ be, but it does give you an ‘accuracy range’ at which you can place the tipping point and the model can still be valid.
This is not quite true, there are a range of places within which our tipping point can be validly placed and not degrade the results of the model too badly. But that range is significant enough for us to have a better degree of confidence in the model.

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Improving Business Processes

             

You probably use dozens of business processes every day. For example, you may go through the same steps each time you generate a report, resolve a customer complaint, contact a new client, or manufacture a new product.

You’ve likely come across the results of inefficient processes, too. Unhappy customers, stressed colleagues, missed deadlines, and increased costs are just some of the problems that dysfunctional processes can create.

That’s why it’s so important to improve processes when they are not working well. In this article, we’ll look at how you can do this.

About Business Processes

Processes can be formal or informal. Formal processes – also known as procedures – are documented, and have well-established steps.For example, you might have procedures for receiving and submitting invoices, or for establishing relationships with new clients. Formal processes are particularly important when there are safety-related, legal or financial reasons for following particular steps.

Informal processes are more likely to be ones that you have created yourself, and you may not have written them down. For example, you might have your own set of steps for noting meeting actions, carrying out market research, or communicating new leads.

The Importance of Efficient Processes

These different kinds of processes have one thing in common: they’re all designed to streamline the way that you and your team work. When everyone follows a well-tested set of steps, there are fewer errors and delays, there is less duplicated effort, and staff and customers feel more satisfied.
Processes that don’t work can lead to numerous problems. For example:

  • Customers may complain about poor product quality or bad service.
  • Colleagues get frustrated.
  • Work may be duplicated, or not done.
  • Costs increase.
  • Resources are wasted.
  • Bottlenecks can develop, causing you to miss deadlines.

Improving Your Team’s Processes

When you encounter some of the problems mentioned above, it may be time to review and update the relevant process. Follow these steps to do this:

Step 1: Map the Process
Once you’ve decided which process you want to improve, document each step using a Flowchart  or a Swim Lane Diagram . These tools show the steps in the process visually. (Swim lane diagrams are slightly more complex than flowcharts, but they’re great for processes that involve several people or groups.)

It’s important to explore each phase in detail, as some processes may contain sub-steps that you’re not aware of. Consult people who use the process regularly to ensure that you don’t overlook anything important.

Step 2: Analyze the Process

Use your flow chart or swim lane diagram to investigate the problems within the process. Consider the following questions:

  • Where do team members or customers get frustrated?
  • Which of these steps creates a bottleneck?
  • Where do costs go up and/or quality go down?
  • Which of these steps requires the most time, or causes the most delays?

First use Root Cause Analysis Cause and Effect Analysis , or The 5 Whys  to trace the problem to its origins. After all, if you only fix the symptoms, the problems will continue.Speak to the people who are affected by the process. What do they think is wrong with it? And what suggestions do they have for improving it? Then look at other teams in your organization. What tactics have they developed to deal with similar situations?

Step 3: Redesign the Process

You're now going to redesign the process to eliminate the problems you have identified. It's best to work with the people who are directly involved in the process. Their ideas may reveal new approaches, and, also, they're more likely to buy into change if they've been involved at an early stage.

First, make sure that everyone understands what the process is meant to do. Then, explore how you can address the problems you identified in step 2 (Brainstorming  can help here). Note down everyone's ideas for change, regardless of the costs involved.Then, narrow your list of possible solutions by considering how your team's ideas would translate to a real-life context.

Start by conducting an Impact Analysis  to understand the full effects of your team's ideas. Then, carry out a Risk Analysis  and a Failure Mode and Effects Analysis  to spot possible risks and points of failure within your redesigned process. Depending on your organization's focus, you may also want to consider Customer Experience Mapping  at this stage.

These tests will help you to understand the full consequences of each proposed idea, and allow you to make the right decision for everyone.

Once you and your team agree on a process, create new diagrams to document each step.

Step 4: Acquire Resources

You now need to secure the resources you need to implement the new process. List everything that you'll need to do this. This could include guidance from senior managers or from colleagues in other departments, such as IT or HR. Communicate with each of these groups, and make sure that they understand how this new process will benefit the organization as a whole. You may need to prepare a business case  to demonstrate this.

Step 5: Implement and Communicate Change

It's likely that improving your business process will involve changing existing systems, teams, or processes. For example, you may need to acquire new software, hire a new team member, or organize training for colleagues.

Rolling out your new process could be a project in itself, so plan and manage this carefully. Allocate time for dealing with teething troubles, and consider running a pilot first, to check for potential problems.

Keep in mind that change is not always easy. People can be resistant to it, especially when it involves a process that they've been using for some time. You can use tools such as the Change Curve  and Kotter's 8-Step Change Model  to help overcome resistance to change.

Step 6: Review the Process

Few things work perfectly, right from the start. So, after you roll out the new process, closely monitor how things are going in the weeks and months that follow, to ensure that the process is performing to expectations. This monitoring will also allow you to fix problems as they occur.

Make it a priority to ask the people involved with the new process how it's working, and what – if any – frustrations they're experiencing.

Adopt continuous improvement strategies such as Kaizen . Small improvements made regularly will ensure that the process stays relevant and efficient.

Key Points

A business process is a set of steps or tasks that you and your team use repeatedly to create a product or service, reach a specific goal, or provide value to a customer or supplier. When processes work well, they can significantly improve efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction.However, processes that don't work can cause frustration, delays, and financial loss.

To improve a business process, follow these steps.

  • Map processes
  • Analyze the process
  • Redesign the process
  • Acquire resources
  • Implement and communicate change
  • Review the process

Keep in mind that you'll need to improve most processes at some point. New goals, new technology, and changes in the business environment can all cause established processes to become inefficient or outdated.

 

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Calendar of Events

The Bayarea chapter looks for opportunities for our members to get involved and meet other project managers in the field. Whether you're new in the area or looking to grow your professional network we have something for you. 

See our calendar of events or contact us for additional details on upcoming events. 

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Volunteer Opportunities

The PMI SF Bay Area Chapter is looking for volunteers to help meet the needs of its members. If you are interested or know someone who might be interested in these opportunities then please contact vpvmm@pmisfbac.org for more information. Currently we are seeking volunteers for a variety of positions including: 

  • Director of Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Design/Layout and Social Media Marketing
  • Marketing Manager
  • Social Media Manager
  • Events Manager
  • Evening Programs Manager
  • Newsletter Editor

 

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Did you know?

Did you know… Large projects are twice as likely to be late, over budget, and missing critical features as small projects. A large project is more than 10 times more likely to fail outright, meaning it will be cancelled or will not be used because it outlived its usefulness prior to implementation. (Source: The Standish Group: CHAOS Research Report 2013)

Did you know… Despite being the top driver of project success, fewer than 2 in 3 projects had actively engaged project sponsors. (Source: Project Management Institute: Pulse of the Profession 2014 – The High Cost of Low Performance)

Did you know… 68% of projects don’t have an effective project sponsor to provide clear direction or help address problems? (Source: KPMG New Zealand: Project Management Survey 2010)

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Membership Certification

5 Ways to Boost Your Project Management Career

Professional development is all about the long game. But you can get noticed in the short­term with these simple career hacks. Building the skills and experience organizations look for in a project leader takes years of focused effort. But there are also small steps you can take in the short term to position yourself for success. Here are five project management career hacks that can help you showcase your skills — and stand out from the pack come promotion time.

1. Map Out Your Future

Create a personal development plan that lists your career goals and outlines how to achieve them, says Ali Kaabi, PMP, general manager of global practice at MSC Mobility Solutions, a mobile technology company in Sydney, Australia. “Start with your three­ to five­year plan, either creating a list of organizations you’d like to work for or a list of positions you’d like,” Mr. Kaabi says. “Then conduct the necessary research to draw a career map to the top. Recently, I created a similar plan for my team members. I drew up an eight­level plan that started at project coordinator and tracked them all the way up to project management office (PMO) director.” At each level, identify the skills, certifications and individual competencies associated with the position. This will help you pursue the right development opportunities and make strategic career choices along the way.

2. Strategize and Specialize

Having an area of expertise is a great way to stand out from the crowd. And if you can develop a specialty that will stay in demand, that’s even better. For instance, in the United States, the need for project managers in business services and healthcare is expected to increase in the near future, according to PMI’s Project Management Talent Gap Report. “Leveraging the experiences that are gained from taking on a specialty can prove really beneficial,” says Angel Cutruzzula, PMP, manager of implementation operations at HR software company Zenefits in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. “Not only does it allow the project manager to bring unique value to the team, it offers them an area where they can educate others.”

3.) Team Up with a Mentor

If your organization doesn’t have a formal mentoring program, ask someone who has a job on your career map if they’d be willing to take you under their wing. This way, you can better 10/29/2015 MAY 2015 Archive http://www.pmi­sfbac.org/about­us/newsletter/archives/may­2015­archive/ 3/4 understand what it takes to succeed in a position you’d like to have one day. “I received excellent advice from a vice president who was willing to mentor me, and she really helped me think outside of my particular role to have a bigger vision within the organization,” Ms. Cutruzzula says.

4. Network, Network, Network

Surrounding yourself with passionate project managers is a great way to pick up skills that can help you jump to the next level in your career. “Participate in like­minded groups, such as your local PMI chapter or another specialty interest group,” Mr. Kaabi says. He also recommends setting a networking goal. Whether you aim to reach out to one connection each month or attend two networking events per quarter, this helps make sure you’re constantly expanding your professional reach.

5. Walk Away from Work

Spending all your time in the office can sap your inspiration and lead to stale project plans. Recreational distractions that take your mind off of your project can provide some muchneeded perspective, Mr. Kaabi says. “It’s important to have a release to take your mind off the problem of the day,” Mr. Kaabi says. “I do that by participating in a team sport or listening to my favorite music while I take a walk. It’s necessary to refresh your mind and start the next day on a productive note.” While nothing can take the place of long­term planning and preparation, these simple steps can show your supervisors you have the potential to make a great project leader.

Acknowledging Chapter Members’ Achievement of PMI Certification

by Mark Franks, PMP

As PMI members almost all of us are familiar with the PMP certification — in fact, we try to publish monthly the list of members who have recently achieved their PMP certification.  What has gone under appreciated until very recently is that many of our members are attaining the other PMI certifications.  Due to the membership database structure we cannot easily distill monthly data for these achievements; however, acknowledging the effort and accomplishment of these successes is important. We will strive to recognize our fellow Chapter members’ achievements semiannually by listing all those that attain certification at the newsletter link

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Toastmasters

Toastmasters is not just a forum for better speaking skills, it's where we build tomorrow's leaders.  This is also a great venue for discussing, practicing, and perfecting communication techniques for all types of situations, from meeting facilitation to professional networking. The Scopemasters chapter adds a project management focus to the mix, and the result is avaluable, PDU earning, meeting that can pay big dividends for the time invested. If you are interested in finding out more about Scopemasters please send an email to our VP of PR, Gretchen Peters and include your contact information.We’ll get back to you with more details about how tobe a part of this exciting organization.

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Newsletter Team

 

Editor-in-Chief: Vacant

Editor: Vacant

Web Layout Editor: Lola Akanmu

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