DENVER, CO – November 14, 2007 – Systemation, a practical, results-driven business analysis and project management training and consulting company, today published key insights from its training experts that address common challenges confronting Business Analysts and Project Managers. Drawing from nearly five decades of hands-on experience, Systemation trainers offer practical advice on several key issues, including project politics, the pitfalls of having more than one Project Sponsor, getting executive support and why it benefits Project Managers to be good public speakers.
“Systemation has been improving the performance of Business Analysts and Project Managers since 1959,” stated Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation, “and over the course of time you begin to see some common challenges emerge. While our in-depth training workshops are chock full of custom instruction, students learn many universal principles and best practices as well. We wanted to open our kimono a bit and share some of this knowledge in hopes that others might benefit from our learning and experience.”
When thinking about the effort behind actualizing project objectives, it is clear formal and informal networks must be used to get work done. It’s no easy feat to get individuals and groups with disparate goals working collectively. It requires patience, organizational awareness, and a broad, deep network of relationships.
For project-driven change to occur it needs cultivated, fertile ground and a deep well of resources, but creating that doesn’t happen overnight. While building relationships cross-functionally is a great lateral first step to cultivation, it’s the caring and feeding of those relationships that sustain and maximize the effort and provide a deep well of resources when needed. How does one dig that well, then care for and maintain it so the invaluable resources it contains are available when needed? It starts with creating V.A.L.U.E.:
The short answer: Yes. The better answer: The best run projects don’t. Here’s why.
An organization that’s on a quest to run an on time, on schedule and on budget project may not realize the negative impact that having two or more Project Sponsors (those that provide financial resources for the project AND have the full and final authority to approve or cancel it) can potentially have on the project. Think meeting time, scheduling nightmares, and decision making challenges. Next, think overall increased costs to deliver the project driven from the increased meetings, the meetings before meetings, and the time it will take to facilitate decisions on key issues across several Project Sponsors.
So what’s a Project Manager to do? From the moment you are assigned a project, start getting your arms around the project structure by putting together a project organizational chart. The chart should clearly identify the names of the Stakeholders, Project Team, Project Manager and the (one) Project Sponsor. It can be used not only to get the project structure defined, but also to facilitate team member assignments. Organizations succeed more often with a project organizational chart because:
Executives have the ability to help us through project logjams, such as when stakeholders can’t seem to agree. When decisions need to be made, the supportive executive can help navigate the process in a timely fashion, reducing delays that would otherwise paralyze projects. They have the positional power to secure resources and funding, and can articulate the business need driving the project.
Many Systemation facilitators are also executive coaches. Some of the biggest complaints executives have about their Project Managers include:
So, if you don’t have executive support, what can you do to get it? Consider how you’re communicating with your sponsor. Is the frequency appropriate? How about the level of detail? Should you be using more face-to-face than e-mail? When there are issues, do you bring options and recommendations? Do you know what the Sponsor’s priorities are? If you don’t know what keeps your Sponsor awake at night, it could be argued that you’re not doing your job.
Use a Communication Plan to more intentionally keep people in the loop. Show that you feel the weight of the project and are proactively seeking solutions to issues. Don’t hide behind e-mail. Last but not least, develop a better relationship with your Sponsor. Good rapport with your Sponsor will pay enormous project dividends.
Good speaking skills can help Business Analysts and Project Managers. Creating motivation and desire will fuel improvement. But while talking is easy, public speaking takes special knowledge and skill. Unfortunately, many well-meaning instructors have led students down the wrong path. Their tips usually include: speak slowly, use gestures, don’t use gestures, look at everyone, smile, don’t get nervous, and make believe they are sitting there in their underwear. Such tips may have value, but consider these: