Contents

In our last article on Project Management, we discussed what the Project Manager would need to do during the bid period, in order to ensure a winning bid for the company. In this article, we move on in the life of the project.

Project Management - Winning the Project

Project Management - Winning the ProjectThe big day has arrived, the day on which your customer decides which of the competing bidders has won his new project. As the Project Manager, you may or may not be the first to hear the news. Customers work differently. Sometimes a member of the customers staff, or more than one, will whisper the news to his opposite number in the bidding company and sometimes full protocol will be observed, with a formal communication being sent from the customers Contracts Manager to your Commercial Manager. Either way, the Project Manager will be one of the first to hear the good news that your bid was considered to be the best and that the job now starts in earnest.Bearing in mind that a large part of the Project Managers job is man management, one of your first duties should be to arrange a celebration for all the people who worked on the bid. This sign of appreciation will do wonders for staff morale and will ensure that you have a willing team. Depending on the value of the project, this celebration might be a beer in the pub or a full blown lunch. Dont forget to include everyone or this will have the opposite to the desired effect. When having your celebration, use the opportunity to praise past efforts and lay out future expectations.At this early stage, your other major task will be to ensure that someone is arranging your office accommodation. If you work for a large company which likes to co-locate its project personnel, you will need to make sure that someone is taking care of space, storage and communications so that your staff can quickly settle down and devote themselves to making the project a success.After the celebration (the same day might not be such a good idea), call your first project meeting for your senior team members. At this stage, it is unlikely that your company will actually have signed the contract for this project so before that happens, more work is necessary. Your team will need to again review the customers documentation to ensure that they still say the same as they did when you responded to the bid. Its not unheard of for a customer to try and sneak in a few extra requirements when they think youre not looking. You will also need to make sure that your responses to both the Invitation to Tender and any subsequent questions have been included in the new documentation and that the price, payment plan, technical solution and everything else, have been acknowledged.As long as all the documentation is in order, it is normal practice to go ahead with the project, even without the benefit of a signed contract. Often, the customer will have sent a formal Instruction to Proceed agreeing basics such as the price. You will probably need this to get project funding signed off by the senior financial people in your organisation, enabling you to get on with the job. and thats where the next article will take us.

How to Lose Friends and Make Enemies

How to Lose Friends and Make Enemies

Over the past few years an epidemic of rudeness has swept America. Here's how to perpetuate the disease.1) Ignore people. Don't return phone calls. Never answer the phone. Don't listen when people talk to you. Talk on your cell phone when with others, especially in restaurants or other public places. Don't acknowledge that others exist. The greatest insult that you can give someone is to ignore the person. If you excel at this skill you can skip the next four paragraphs.2) Show disrespect. Make fun of others. Assign stupid nicknames or deliberately mispronounce names. Make people wait for you. Laugh at other people's mistakes, struggles, and fears. Use sarcasm and cynicism freely. Treat people like idiots. Disrespect is powerful because it strips people of their dignity.3) Criticize. Find fault in everything. Spread gossip. Complain about anything and everything. Remind people about mistakes they made, even if decades ago. If possible, embellish your complaints with exaggerated descriptions of failure. Keep a written log of faults, flaws, and fumbles so you can grind on them daily. Develop a whining tone to your voice. Critics reduce everything to dirt.4) Be negative. Master pessimism. Attack every change or new idea. Always focus on failure. Expect the worst to happen. Never accept or approve anything. Refuse to participate or cooperate in any endeavor. If something appears to work despite your efforts, cause delays so you can prepare fresh arguments against it. Aggressive gloom creates perpetual hopelessness.5) Get mad. Throw tantrums. Scream. Yell. Shout. Slam doors. Hit walls. Throw things. Act violent. Use accusations, insults, and threats to disrupt conversations. Tolerate nothing. Insist on retribution. Always attack first. Blame your anger on others. Unpredictable, insane behavior keeps other people off balance.Caution: Application of these tactics guarantees that the need for attorneys will increase.

Using SWOT Analysis To Improve Your Business

Using SWOT Analysis To Improve Your Business

Analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of a business is a well-established tool that is widely used by academics, consultants, and advisors. Although it is a simple concept, business owners often struggle when trying to use it because it is so broad. It is difficult to determine where to start, what questions to ask, and where to focus. The obvious problems get attention while many other important issues get overlooked. SWOT analysis is a great tool, but its effective use requires additional structure. Strengths and weaknesses relate to internal factors, while opportunities and threats cover external ones. The internal factors can be divided into five categories: management, workforce, sales and marketing, operations, and financial. The external factors are also divided into five categories: threat of new entrants, bargaining power of suppliers, bargaining power of customers, threat of rivalry from competitors, and threat of substitution. To approach the analysis in a structured way, prepare a checklist using the categories mentioned above. Identify factors within each category that are important to your business. Under management for example, a major weakness for virtually every small business is relying too heavily on the owner. What would happen to the business if something happened to the owner? In the workforce category a factor could be employee turnover and the availability of new hires. The threat of new entrants might include the possibility of a big box retailer opening near your business. The bargaining power of suppliers and customers categories should consider the possibility of losing a major supplier or customer. Come up with several factors for each category to complete the checklist. It is important that you do not try to rate or solve each issue as you identify them. If you do, you will get bogged down on each factor and never complete the analysis. Once the checklist is complete, you should rate each factor based on its importance to your business. Use an alphabetical scale from A to E, where A = very important, B = important, C = some importance, D = little importance, and E = not important. Next rate each factor based on proficiency (internal) or vulnerability (external). Use a numerical scale from 1 to 5, where 1 = very proficient or not vulnerable, 2 = proficient or little vulnerability, 3 = average proficiency or some vulnerability, 4 = poor proficiency or vulnerable, and 5 = deficient or very vulnerable. The factors with the lowest letter and highest number (A5) are the biggest weaknesses or threats. The ones with the lowest letter and lowest number (A1) are the biggest strengths or opportunities. Using this structured approach makes a SWOT analysis possible and practical for any "small business" . To make this process worthwhile you must use this information to take action. Work to fix the worst problems first, prepare for the biggest risks, take advantage of the best opportunities, and build your secondary strengths.

Elements for success in team building event planning

Elements for success in team building event planning

The responsibility of organising team building events is a huge task for anyone. Everything has to be planned and implemented with sheer precision. In addition to that, team building objectives would need to be incorporated into most activities. This is why the goal of the event must first be identified prior to the planning process. Once thats done, it would be best to run a research on the various team building activities that will achieve the intended objectives of the organisation. Browsing through websites such as http://www.chillisauce.co.uk/corporate-events will give you with an idea on the type of activities you can run.Your next step is to pick a venue that has the necessary facilities to run your team building activities. It may be a good idea to go through the list of locations approved by your corporation before you start making enquiries. This way, you wont waste any of your time considering venues that will not be accepted. You can also cross check with your colleagues for referrals, as they will possess first-hand experience on the service levels and facilities of the places that you are thinking about.As a teambuilding event planner, one of your core responsibilities is to create a balance between meeting organisational objectives and boosting of employee morale. One of the ways to do this is to encourage interaction amongst participants, through the activities and games that will be implemented. Holistic participation would be your ultimate goal, which is why these games should be made appropriate for everyone. Utilising activity evaluation models such as Kirkpatricks Learning Model will help you decide if an activity is enjoyable, educational, and applicable while improving performance. Depending on the event objective, there will be many activity options for you to choose from, such as ice-breaker exercises, leadership and management activities and observation and awareness exercises.Finally, its good to make a last-minute list of the tasks that you need to sort out a few days before the event date. For instance, you may need to confirm the number of team building participants with the venue or resort and make a list of the equipment needed for the event. Ultimately, precision in all of these details would be essential for your success as an event organiser.

Five Steps for Handling Workplace Conflict

Copyright 2006 Red Ladder, Inc.You're at work. You've been assigned an exciting, highly visible project. You can't wait to get started. You arrive at your first team meeting ready to rock and roll. You take one look around and you immediately hone in on several scowling faces. Almost immediately, you are confronted and a conflict ensues. Your excitement quickly diminishes as you realize you have your work cut out for you.Sound familiar? Maybe not exactly this scenario but I guarantee almost anyone you talk to in the workplace has encountered one form of conflict or another. You may experience this conflict one-on-one or in a team setting. Not to worry. Conflict in the workplace is not uncommon, and in fact, in some instances it is even worthwhile. That's right. It can be worthwhile particularly if you can shift the conflict to make it work to your advantage.Why does conflict occur? Typically, conflicts arise when expectations are not met in some form, when one party perceives a threat to themselves in some way, or through simple miscommunication.So, what can you do to manage conflict when it arises? Follow these simple steps.1. Determine the cause. You can't solve the problem until you are sure that everyone has a mutual definition of the problem and that everyone is talking about the same problem. Gather as much data as you can. Ask for information and be sure to involve the impacted individual(s) in discussions. Ask "what else" questions to raise all of the issues and show a willingness to listen. Do not become defensive or personalize issues.2. Collaborate on solutions. Use a "yes... and" response to focus and build on potential solutions. Avoid using a "yes... but" response, which tends to shift focus back onto the problem and away from solutions. Whenever possible, always engage key stakeholders in developing solutions. This will help facilitate buy-in when final decisions are made.3. Provide alternative options. Whenever possible, provide choices. People tend to feel empowered when they are involved in the decision making process. This will also help you in soliciting ongoing support and champions once the final decisions are made.4. Communicate key decisions. Develop a communication plan that communicates the decision as many times and as many ways that you feel are appropriate. This might include meeting one-on-one with those involved, announcement at a team meeting, and an email announcement or written memo to follow-up. Be sure to involve your boss (and senior management or human resources when appropriate) to reinforce and support the final decision.5. Implement solutions. Once a decision has been made, it is important that you be assertive in the implementation of that decision. When challenged (and do expect to be challenged) be calm, re-focus on the process used to identify issues and develop solutions, and be confident in the knowledge that you have done the best you can to resolve the situation. Don't get angry or over-apologize, as this will only serve to weaken your position.Handling workplace conflict is never easy but it is necessary if you want to be perceived as a strong leader capable of getting things done. Avoid conflict and you put yourself on a path of manipulation and distrust. Handle conflict straight on and you will earn the respect of your peers, your staff, and your boss. Even more importantly, you will feel more confident and capable, no matter what situation you find yourself in.

Workforce Management Policies to Keep Skilled People

You might be able to attract people with high value skills through a well-presented ad. However, to keep them with you, your organization must have put in place workforce management policies that make these people want to continue with the organization.The policies must fit in with the organization and the place where it is located. If the policies are incompatible with the existing organization and place, they are likely to remain just book policies that will not be implemented in their true spirit.We look at some standard "workforce management" policies that can create an environment that make people want to remain with you.Organizational Culture: We mentioned how the organizational environment affects the policies that can be implemented in their true spirit in an organization. You could consider creating an environment that would facilitate the development of your workforce into a cohesive team of achievers. Basically, what you try to do is to create an organizational culture where people tend to help each other rather than blame or hinder each other.Induction Training: Help new employees to quickly become a productive member of your team through an effective induction process. Introduce them to other team members and help them absorb your organizational culture, and to become familiar with the ways of working in your organization.Clear Goals and Roles: Develop job descriptions that indicate clearly what team role each employee should seek to play, and what goals the person should seek to achieve.Goals Aligned to Higher Level Goals: Carefully align employee goals with the team goals, which are aligned with successively higher level goals culminating in overall company goals. That way, the employee would find it easy to contribute in a meaningful manner, and be rewarded accordingly.Work Environment: Arrange workstations, facilities and tools that help employees perform without undue stress. Uncomfortable workstations, high noise levels, having to find needed tools yourself, and so on are stressful and make employees look for better places to work in.Credible Performance Measurement and Reward Structure: One of the best motivating factors is being recognized and rewarded for good performance. The performance must be measured in a way that the employee can understand clearly. Good performance, which can also be measured in terms of contribution to team effectiveness, should be rewarded consistently and without discrimination.Skills and Career Development Options: Each employee should be able to develop his or her skill, and a career development path should be open for his or her progress in the organization. A certification program can add to the attractiveness.An Effective Mentoring Program: A mentoring program that helps each employee achieve personal and company objectives should supplement the above. The mentor would try to help the employee meet company expectations in a way that also meets personal expectations. ConclusionCarefully developed workforce management policies that would fit in with the organization and the place where it is located could pay high dividends. Your organization would then find it easier to attract the right kind of people, with the right skill set that you need. More importantly, you would find it possible to retain these skilled employees in your organization.We looked at standard workforce management policies that can help you develop a highly motivated workforce in your organization.

Summary

In our last article on Project Management, we discussed what the Project Manager would need to do during the bid period, in order to ensure a winning bid for the company. In this article, we move on in the life of the project.