15 Ground Rules for Project Team Management

March 9, 2010

People with diverse professional experiences and background have totally unique perspective on any issue.  When a new team is assembled for any project, its vital for the success of that project that all team member are aware of  the ground-rules for the project; similar to any sport.  You may have to read it to team and give a copy for reference.

Here is an example list that I have used for a project to keep team aligned.    Such ground-rules certainly eliminate unnecessary confusion and your business customer and team members like it defined beforehand.  Make sure, you also follow it and implement it.

  1. Project manager is the primary contact for any project related communication.
  2. All team members maintain their contact info on the team contact list with contact preference.
  3. All members attend required meetings and conference calls; if unable to attend, meeting organizer to be notified.  If key contributor is unable to attend, request to reschedule the meeting.
  4. Any planned day off or vacation must be communicated in advance to project manager so that project plan can be updated and impact to work, if any, can be analyzed.
  5. All project team members have access to project plan and  project logs (in a standard document format) and are aware of the assigned tasks and due dates.
  6. All team members are to be consulted about the reasonableness of the plan prior to management approval.
  7. All team members are required to validate their assignments and time allocated prior to the plan is baselined.
  8. All project team members have the responsibility to proactively notify the project manager about tasks, duration or dependencies they believe are missing (or any other needed changes to the plan) and confront issues directly and promptly.
  9. Project team members have the responsibility to notify any potential difficulties in meeting the schedule for any assigned tasks as soon as it is known by the team member.
  10. Each project team member is responsible for ensuring anticipated workload conflicts with other assignments are brought to the attention of the project manager.  Team members should ask for help if feeling “stuck” or falling behind the schedule instead of waiting for miracle.
  11. All team members are responsible to own, follow-up and provide updates on the assigned task (including but not limited to any identified risks, issues, changes, approvals, clarification from customer).  If any delay is observed, escalate to project manager.
  12. All  meeting minutes, key decisions, assumptions and business rules must be documented and all action items must be followed up and assigned to a resource with expected completion date. These items are usually mentioned in casual conversation.
  13. All project team members understand the scope of work.  Any work performed must be in the project plan and is in the project scope.  Anything that is absolutely needed but not part of the project plan, must be brought into project manager’s attention.
  14. All project team members confront issues directly and promptly.
  15. Only project manager submits all final deliverables to business customer for sign-off or approval.

What are other key things that you have found useful and we can add to this list?

Thank you for your visit and have a great day!


Power of Social Media and Customer Service

November 11, 2009

You might have heard that someone got very bad customer service one day and no one would resolve the complaint at this company.  This person gets upset by the treatment received and decides to write a complaint letter to the president of the company.  In few weeks he receives a note and the issue is resolved by president’s interference.  Everyone gets back to business and few people in the town heard of the story and thats it.

Now go to Web 2.0, someone got bad customer service and received no reasonable response  to the complaint.  This consumer feels mis-treated as his complaint is not treated fairly.  This person sings a complaint song, and shares it on YouTube.   Word about this customer service story circulates the internet through the song shared on YouTube, people in millions watch it and it hurts the organization’s bottom line (over $100 millions) and the brand.  And then this individual gets an apology from the company and complain finally gets  resolved.

This is the power of social media if used correctly. It works both ways.

Here is the complete story  about singer Dave Carroll incident and whose guitar was broken by United Airlines (Link to Huffington Post story) . Watch the  song. 

Here are some key points (and some Customer Service/Help Desk experts can add more) –

  1. Consumer expects good service all the time, although doesn’t give reward or recognize it publically, but indirectly rewards by doing business again and again.
  2. Consumer is generally prepared to handle good and bad customer service; in case of bad service, do not expect more business.
  3. Consumer is wowed by exceptional service only and you can find 5-star reviews online and strong brand following is built/maintained. Facebook Fan page and twitter following of brand can tell something.
  4. Consumer is offended by horrible customer service.  You can find 1-star reviews online and some dedicated websites to complain about product, brand or service can be found.  Some may get creative like David Carroll and make a dent on your brand.
  5. If not sure how to handle the complaint or issue, do not just say No.  Let your boss help you.
  6. If you face customers, genuine attitude determines consumer behaviour to a bigger extent.

I have noticed that consumer tolerance to bad service is inversely proportional to size of brand or organization.  Bigger the brand or name of the organization, higher the expectation of consumer in terms of service.

 Here is another blogger with the same story- http://adgablog.wordpress.com/2009/11/06/how-to-ruin-a-reputation-in-4-days-on-youtube/

What are your thoughts, please share.  Have a great day.


11 Principles of Leadership

August 20, 2009

 I came across 11 leadership principles of Marine Corps in Guide Book for Marines on the Internet and here is my interpretation of 11 principles.  I am interested in hearing from Marines about their leadership experience. 

  1. Take responsibility – we need to seek and take responsibilities if we need to grow; never shy away, whatever seems challenging will help you expand your perspective.
  2. Know yourself – reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses; seek improvement and understand that you can achieve only those goals that you set.
  3. Set an example– conduct your business in a professional manner; do not loose temper – small minds are bothered by small problems; not only work in your job but also work on your job as well.  Be a brand that people want to associate with.
  4. Develop your subordinates– consider this as part of your job; learn to delegate; as Zig Ziglar said “You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want“; give them opportunities to learn & grow;  guide them if they fit somewhere else.
  5. Be available – in every respect; be available to listen to problems and challenges people are facing; to motivate, to lead and to show right direction; to hear criticism; to take decisions and to act on time.
  6. Look after the welfare of your employees – the way you want your boss to look after your welfare; develop emotional intelligence; connect with people and find out what motivates them; do something that touches their lives; help them when they are in need.  Arrogance and ignorance will not take you to the top or won’t keep you there for long.
  7. Keep everyone well informed  – right communication is the key; make sure that the tasks are understood, supervised and accomplished on time and tell why you need all this done; do no assume –  aks and tell.
  8. Set goals that are achievable – always set the goals – people need to know what they are expected to deliver and by when; let people figure out how;  goals should motivate teams to act; measure the results and reward people.
  9. Make sound and timely decisions– that are aligned with the core principles of your organization and with your job descriptions; there will always be more than one right answer – choose the one that benefits the most and not only you; take decisions like a servant leader.
  10. Know your job – be technically and tactically proficient in your job; know your people; know the processes and challenges; know how can you add value to the organization or your department.
  11. Build teamwork– not all people can perform equally but they should complement each other while working towards a common goal; promote team work and diversity; shield your team from external pressure; be flexible with team.

“Leadership is intangible, hard to measure, and difficult to describe. It’s quality would seem to stem from many factors. But certainly they must include a measure of inherent ability to control and direct, self-confidence based on expert knowledge, initiative, loyalty, pride and sense of responsibility. Inherent ability cannot be instilled, but that which is latent or dormant can be developed. Other ingredients can be acquired. They are not easily learned. But leaders can be and are made.” – General C. B. Cates, 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps

Thanks for reading and welcome your input.  Have a great day.


Quotes for Managers

August 14, 2009

 

Here are 6 quotes for I.T. managers from Norman R. Augustine

  1. Hardware works best when it matters the least.
  2. A revised schedule is to business what a new season is to an athlete or a new canvas to an artist.
  3. One of the most feared expressions in modern times is ”The computer is down”.
  4. It has been wisely said that the world is not interested in the storms you encountered but in whether you brought the ship in safely.
  5. If a sufficient number of management layers are superimposed on top of each other, it can be assured that disaster is not left to chance.
  6. The last 10 percent of performance generates one-third of the cost and two-thirds of the problems.

Thank you for visiting and have a great day.


Leadership Sans Ego & Insecurity

March 10, 2009

Photo courtesy : cultivategreatness.com

Everywhere we turn our focus to, we hear something negative and how leadership should come forward.  Leadership at every level is already faced with some difficult choices.  It is of paramount importance that when leaders make decisions to change the course, decisions should not have been plagued by personal ego and due to insecurity.

As John C Maxwell says that Ego and Insecurity are the two greatest landmines of leadership; think about any world leader and if he stepped on these landmines or not.  Do you want to?  After a long time when we reflect on the decisions we make today should be matter of proud.

As a leader, we get a chance to serve our people, I mean serve genuinely.  In these times how we act will shape our organizations and societies.  Lets take the right actions while we overcome the short-term issues, we keep long term objectives in our minds.

Thanks for visiting, and have a great day!


Capture Planning Assumptions

February 23, 2009

Your boss approaches you and tells that workplan is very good but customer wants to know how can we deliver the project sooner than promised?  Now you have to come up with a new workplan or make some adjustments based on new findings.  You put your thoughts together and go on to make changes/update and deliver the final document with required changes. 

And then your boss asks, why this task is due this particular day and why are we taking this long to complete, etc., etc…

You might have answers for most of the questions your boss has asked but it is of prime importance that you document all the assumptions you made while planning, does not matter how small or evident those assumptions are.

I would capture following –

  • why are you making these changes or what is the objective and if these objectives are aligned with customer expectations;
  • what are high-level or global assumptions for the plan being put in place (standardized assumptions);
  • why making change to time/scope/cost;
  • what are risks that can derail the work;
  • what are the opportunities that you are counting on;
  • who are the critical resources you have based your work on;
  • what exceptions from standard process did you make;
  • what compromises are built into the plan;
  • what is the impact on existing process (if any);
  • for budget tail of it : dollars spent per month; and
  • what are the key milestones.

I hope these are the basic questions that we should be able to answer from a Project Management perspective when talking about assumptions.  Let me know what your thoughts are and what else could be added to the list?

Thanks for reading it, appreaciate your feedback.


Choosing Team Lead

January 11, 2009

“People acting together as a group can accomplish things that no individual acting alone could ever hope  to bring about.” – FD Roosevelt

Each team members has unique work style, personal goals, skills, background and experience.  Each team member’s unique qualities and different attributes make a team complex unit where conflict, confusion, criticism will grow and finally bring the project to failure  if team is not led the proper way. 

In many I.T. projects,  Project Manager (PM) has a team leader who assists him or her in coordination of work, driving the team effort, listening and resolving team issues, guiding in making the appropriate tactical decisions, and above all providing expert advice on subject matter, among others.  Synergy and cooperation among team members are the key things for success of the project and for that,  a good team lead should be in place.  If you got a weak team leader, team will not perform and you will be spending all of energy in team issue management.  As a PM, you need to understand that your team leader should –

  1. understand the whole project along with project objectives and goals;
  2. be expert of the overall process who can guide team members;
  3. be able to handle pressure and conflict situations;
  4. understands the team dynamics and works to promote productive working conditions;
  5.  be a good team player and can get status of work from team members;
  6. be capable of resolving minor issues without your involvement;
  7. be able to negotiate and communicate with technical as well non-technical people involved;
  8. be proactive with qualities of a mentor and a coach and
  9. able to provide realistic and accurate feedback on time.

Hope this helps in making you decide whom to choose to lead your team.  Let me know what else can be added to the list.  Thanks for reading and have a good day.


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