90 Percent

Project management, productivity, change management, and more!


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What do you bring to the table?


Source: photojock

Everyone is unique, our personalities, mixed with our environment, and everything that as been part of our lives in the past forge us to be who we are today. Many people have similarities of course, and those similarities are easily found at work when many share the same role. For example, working in a PMO with several project managers, it’s safe to assume you are not the only one who is organized (I hope so at least).

So when these similarities make you ‘blend in’, how can you become indispensable? How can you bring something different, something unique? In other words, what do you bring to the team that others don’t?

It can be anything

Let me re-use my example above; you are a project manager amongst others in a PMO, you are organized, you communicate well, you are pro-active, basically you are a typical ‘good’ project managers, just like your colleagues. You want to stand-out, but short of ‘being more organized’, you have no idea how you can achieve that.

You have to think outside the box, and avoid limiting yourself to ‘project management stuff’ because you are with project managers.

Amongst other things, you can try to mix things up with typical ideas from other roles For example, typical creative team will brainstorm using different methods to do so, and that is how they will most likely find their great idea. Project managers however, will tend to discuss in a more linear way. So how about bringing to the PMO to use brainstorms more often to find solutions to problems, or to find a new way to work?

By bringing in new ideas to the table like this, you will stand-out, and those ideas can open doors to other ideas. There are many other ways to stand-out: bring a positive energy of driving forward continuous improvement, encourage discussions on specific topics, get people to share more, etc. All these things can make you different, whether or not you are the very best project managers in every way, and it will make you indispensable.

One important rule, although very obvious, is that it must be unique, it must not be something that others do too, or you simply blend-in again.

Step out of your comfort zone, or not…

If you are lucky, your personality will let you bring a lot to the table while staying in your comfort zone, meaning, it will be easy for you and it will come naturally. Also, if you happen to be different from the team, right off the bat you may be able to bring lots to it.

It may not be the case for everyone, some may have nothing to bring ‘naturally’, or what they can bring is already there. The only way to stand-out will have to get out of their comfort zone. You know what? This is great because it opens new doors to become more, to surpass yourself.

How do you do it?

First you must know where you can focus your energy so identify what’s missing in the team. Discussions? Teamwork? Innovation? Templates?

Secondly, identify why it is missing. Is it because of lack of motivations from the others? Lack of time? Lack of clarity? Lack of experience? People scared to also step out of their comfort zone?

Third, make it happen. If innovation is not happening because it’s not clear that the team can or should, then be the driver of innovation in the team. Do not confuse with having to do the actual innovation, but if you clear the path for the others, they will see you as the leader of innovation because you made it possible! You may also need to make discussions happen, those annoying discussions the people procrastinate for various reasons, bring it back to the table over and over again, show people that it must be done.

Fall, get up, try again

Trust me, you will make mistakes! Encouraging huh? It should be 🙂

Everyone makes mistakes, meaning you will not be the underdog if you do, you will simply be human.

What’s really important is how you react after those mistakes. If you try to hide them, or blame someone else, then this is how people will see you, and standing out in a negative way is worse than blending-in. Instead, take responsibility, admit your mistake, learn from it, get up, and try again. That’s what people will remember. And you know what? That is one way of standing out of the crowd.

In conclusion

Standing out can be hard, especially if you are surrounded by qualified colleagues. It can be intimidating, but it shouldn’t. Everyone can bring something unique to the team if they want , you just need to make it happen.

How have you been able to stand out? What do you bring to your team? Share your stories!


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5 tips when resources disappear


Source: KellyP42

Resources come and go, whether it’s just for a day when you need to get work done for tomorrow, or a week because people are switched to another project, or permanently because they leave the company, you will have to find a Plan B, even C or D!

Here are some general tips that can help various situations when resources wave goodbye!

1. Manage client expectations appropriately

If resources are switched, or even temporarily absent, chances are, your project will slow down. This means that you may not be able to meet a set deadline. Your client must know this right away, and you may not know when the deadline can be met.

In these cases, do not commit to a specific time and give yourself more time than you think you will need. Instead of “next Monday”, commit to “mid next-week” where you will have some flexibility.

Also, except if it’s a very small “set-back”, you may want to avoid spilling out the reality like “your resource got fired” or “somebody’s sick and we don’t know when he’ll be back”; that will only worry the client and bring absolutely nothing constructive so simply state that you need more time.

2. Switch resources around pro-activaly

If you need someone right away and ask who’s available, chances are everybody will be busy, and those available may not be able to take the task you need done. So you cannot surrender right away, there is often a solution when you move things around taking several projects into consideration. This means different things depending of the situation:

  • Check if other projects have more flexibility, and can lend a resource, even if that project as to postpone a delivery; or
  • Trade resources between projects so one can free another that could do your specific task;

You may have to use diplomacy, but avoid simply asking around “Do you have time?”, start with that, but if it doesn’t work, start trading!

3. Prepare a backup plan in advance

One thing you can do to plan ahead is use the “Hit by a bus syndrome“, I invite you to read my article on the subject.

4. Have your documentation simple & updated

If you are going to switch to a new resource at the last-minute, you want that resource to be up and running very fast. This means that the information you will give him must get to the point and must be reliable. Every minute may make a difference.

Avoid piling up 30 pages to read, give him only what he needs to know, go right to the point.

5. Stay positive

If you start to whine or panic, you are not going to get anything accomplish, nor are you going to be diplomatic when trying to deal resources, so stay positive and go forward.

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What’s a PMO?

PMO stands for Project Management Office. Since it’s objective & responsibilities vary from company to company, it is not necessarily easy to understand what it is.

So what is it?

The typical definition of a PMO is a group of people or department in an organization that is responsible for defining and maintaining project management standards. Note that in smaller organization, even one person could be considered the PMO.

Their responsibility may go beyond that:

  • Portfolio management: Either by participating actively to the management of the portfolio or being fully responsible for it;
  • Resource management: They may have the responsibility of managing who works on which project;
  • Actual project management: they will either manage all projects or the most important ones;
  • Documentation / templates: Can also include which PM tools are used; and
  • Project managers’ training: Making sure the efficiency of project managers satisfy the projects’ needs.

Also good to note

  • A variation called PgMO exists, which Program Management Office. The idea is the same but applies to programs instead which are groups of projects that share similarities that make them more efficient to manage as a group rather than individual;
  • A PMO can have authority within the whole organization or just a department. Therefore, it is possible to have more than one PMO inside an organizational.
  • To complement the item above, it is also possible to have a PMO that manages the departmental PMOs.

What’s in it for Project managers?

  • Great way to share opinion, and gain knowledge from others;
  • Work in an environment where project management maturity is higher;
  • Receive help if required;
  • Career opportunities can rise within the PMO;
  • etc.

In conclusion

PMO are a good sign that an organization as reached a certain maturity with project management, therefore it can be something that project managers seek when looking for a job. As long as objectives are clearly defined for it, PMO greatly rises the success rates of project overall. On the other hand, a poorly defined PMO can add useless overhead to projects, and have a negative impact.

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1 great tip to maximize email efficiency with your tools

As many know, emails make people unproductive. So what happens? When people use online tools that have notifications functionalities, they either ignore all the mails they receive, or they deactivate everything.

Although it is great in the sense that they don’t want to be encumbered by mails, they cannot use the online tool to their full potential. So what to do?

Use “rules”

Your mail manager (GMail, Outlook, etc.) can organize those mails for you. Once your rules are set up, it’ll be a great help. So here’s what you need to do:

  • Identify what’s important to receive: It is important to know what you do want to receive. For example, you may want to receive team comments/messages, and any tasks set to “complete”;
  • Have your tool send you initial mails: You want to identify the keywords that you will use for your rules, so have your tool receive each mail you identified above;
  • Prepare mail folders: You want to separate those mails according to what they will require of you. For example, “task complete” mails may need to be verified, so having them put aside in a “To verify” folder will make going through them very easy.Also, if you are using a tool like Outlook, you will be able to set folder properties so that it displays the number of mails it contains rather than unread mails, that way you can quickly see how many mails are there and not forget some you may have read;
  • Set your rules: Set each appropriate rule so that each type of mails are put aside in appropriate folders;
  • Clean up the folder: Make sure once the mail is not useful anymore (you verified the task, you read the comment, etc.), delete the mail as any information may (or should) be easily found inside your tool, so no need to pile up mails.

In conclusion

Rules are underrated, and they become very valuable when they team up with your tools, so try different rules, and adjust them or your folders as you go forward.


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Is collaboration important for PM tools of today?

I am certain that each domain of work have their different say on this, which I’m still curious to find out about from others, but this article is going to be from an IT point of view.

So is collaboration important for tools of today? YES!

First, let’s make sure everyone is one the same page: by ‘collaboration’, I’m not talking about having a chat available so we can ‘talk’, I’m talking about everyday tools like what is used for managing projects. Collaboration is not only to share messages, but sharing everything about the project (information, dates, etc.), and being able to all work with the same elements.

So now, why is it important?

Saves time

If everyone is using the same tool together, than nobody creates their own individual version, which duplicates information, adds to confusion, and wastes time.

When the information is updated, appropriate people are notified and everyone can quickly see what was updated, rather than having to email or go talk to everyone each time something comes up.

Improves teamwork

When working in teams, collaboration is important, otherwise there is no “team”. The more collaboration possible, to closer & efficient the team will be. Imagine if everyone is aware of project updates and can easily refer back to anything, and can contribute on top of it.

This becomes even more essential when the team is bigger, as more people can contribute.

Everyone can contribute to improve

If everyone collaborates using the same tools, than everyone will have their own opinion. This means that valuable feedback can be gathered in order to improve the tools, or how they are used.

This can greatly optimize/fine tune how the team works together.

One (or few) places where information is stored

If people use the same tools, that means that the information will be less scattered. The result is that there is less confusion, less time wasted looking for information, and less information lost. Furthermore, if there are team members that are switched, previous information is not lost, and new team members can refer back to the team’s tools to catch on.

In conclusion

Collaboration in tools is highly underestimated. Sending a massive amount of mails or spending days in meetings does not compare to having efficient & collaborative tools that the whole team uses and trusts.

What do you think about collaboration with tools used today?


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5 tips to reduce your workload


Source: Aron123

If you read my previous article “5 signs your workload is too much“, and you recognized yourself while reading, then maybe these little tips will help you:

1. Delegate/Ask for help

Depending of your role within a team, you may or may not be able to delegate, but asking for help can do the trick. We often feel bad about asking for help, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

What’s important to remember from this tip is that chances are, you are not alone, and others can make your life easier.

2. Say no

It’s important to know when to say “no”, find out more by reading my previous article: Learn to say ‘no’

3. Negotiate delivery dates

Most of the time, people will ask for something at the last-minute, so they will feel stressed, and will try to ‘force’ a task to you. It may be justified, and it may be very important, so use your judgement, but keep in mind that it’s absolutely alright to propose an alternate time to have the work done.

Other circumstances will be that people will want to make sure to receive something before a specific date, so they will shortened the delay when asking you to do it. Again, it’s perfectly alright to propose to have it done later.

4. Track time, estimate task time, plan consequently

Sometimes, you think you have more time than you actually have, which is why you may tend to accept too much work. What can be useful, even if at first it may seem like adding more work to your plate, is to start paying attention to the time you spend on tasks, and plan your days accordingly.

Depending of your role, or your work environment, you may encounter lots or surprises or be disturbed, so always plan to have some free time, it’ll probably fill itself up. In a previous job, I used to leave half my day free because I was getting disturbed so much. It may seem horrible at first (and it was) but it made me realize the very little time I had left each day to do my work, and I was able to plan accordingly.

5. Change job

This is the last resort, but maybe where you work just isn’t right for you, or they are overworking you. It happens, and people even become sick. The more you wait, the harder it will be to change.

In conclusion

If your workload is too much, you will feel stressed or tired, you will become less productive, work will pile up even more, and you will spiral down into a vicious cycle. Be careful, take care of yourself!

Ever lived a very tough moment? Share!


Back off! 3 things to consider when pressuring team members

Covering eyes

Source: hotblack

In project management, we often (maybe too often) have to work with tight schedules, surprises, scope creep, etc. What happens, especially when less experienced, is that we become stressed, and will transfer this stress to the team members through pressure.

Is that good? Sometimes, it can be, in others, it’s not. There are several things to consider:

1. Dosing is important

Too much pressure is never good, but the right amount can give your team members the boost they need to get the job done. Make sure everyone understands what needs to be delivered and how important it is, but use that opportunity to motivate them that can do it, rather than what’s going to happen if they fail. If you stress them too much, their productivity will diminish, and some may even not be able to work at all.

2. Everyone is different

Some work great under pressure, some not. Get to know your team members and how they react, and dose pressure accordingly:

  • Some love pressure: Those who are great under pressure will be at their greatest with just the right amount of stress. This means that you can emphasize on the delivery being very close, and how important it is to be on time, but you still need to avoid overdoing it.
  • Some hate pressure: Others just don’t react well to pressure. This means that you want to avoid completely adding in kind of pressure whatsoever. However, it is still important to let them know if any deliverables are due, or if anything if late so you want to use a different approach depending of the situation: talking to the whole team at once will reduce adding the pressure on only one or two person and that will make it easier to accept, and also, the tone of voice and your body language will have a great influence on how the members will react, this is important when communicating all the time with everyone, but it is also very important to be careful when you know the pressure will make your team member go berserk!

3. Pressuring & disturbing is different

It’s easy to get caught up in asking colleagues for statuses every half hour because a deliverable is due any second or is even late, and you want them to feel pressure to get the work done ASAP. This only makes matters worse:

  • You slow down work: By asking for statuses, you disturb team members, and prevent them from working on what you want. Even if they are disturbed for 1 minute, consider that they lost 15-30 minutes of momentum & concentration depending of what they are doing. Furthermore, the time they are spending to give you a status is also time they could be spending on finishing the work.
  • You irritate: If your team members are working on a deliverable that is due any second, you can expect that they are also stressed, which means they have less patience. Asking them for statuses will irritate them more easily in these cases, and could create conflicts. Also, he will focus less on his work, and more on how you are irritating him which will reduce his productivity. One thing you always want to avoid is to stand behind them while they are rushing the work, nobody likes that, go sit down, and wait for them to come see you.

In conclusion

Pressure can add focus and speed, but can also reduce it. Be careful of how you add it, and who you are working with, everything has to be considered carefully.

If you have anything to add, don’t hesitate to share!