If, as a Project Manager, you are spending most of your time managing tasks and assignments you may be missing the key ingredients to what actually matters when it comes to delivering projects successfully – communication and collaboration. Here are some questions that you should be asking yourself and your team to ensure that everyone is as productive as possible when delivering projects: Communication: the right things, to the right people and at the right time: Do your meetings achieve what they are set out to? The saying “Failing to plan, means planning to fail” equally applies to meetings. An agenda must be set out and agreed to, prior to all meetings to ensure that the required outcomes are achieved. Sending out meeting notes and tasks will ensure accountability after each meeting. Do all action items have owners? A task that has no owner should be a warning sign. Ensure that all tasks are assigned a clear owner and use meetings for everyone to report back on their action item status. Are you communicating as often as needed? “Less is more” is not a rule to follow here. The more you communicate purposefully and transparently, the less you leave your stakeholders guessing. This should also be encouraged across the team so that all relevant stakeholders are kept in the know. Are you factoring all necessary variables into time estimates from the start? The existence of dependencies and assumptions often mean that a project will take longer than initially expected and planned. To manage expectations effectively, ensure that you estimate timing appropriately based on the complexity of a project. Always try to include a buffer in case the project does run over as well as a contingency plan to implement if need be. Collaboration: with the right people, in the right way and at the right time: Do you have the right toolset for collaboration? Spreadsheets do not work well as a project management collaboration tool as they do not enable discussion or activity logging. Visual collaboration tools are becoming more appropriate as they enable these functions and include a cross-sectional view across multiple locations. Trello, for example, has an initial free offering that is effective enough to enable team collaboration immediately without incurring any additional costs. Are you getting the best out of virtual meeting facilities? Knowing when to use email over when to have a video chat can be the difference between solving an issue immediately or it getting lost in translation in an email trail, which could lead to unnecessary confusion and wasted time. Do you know who is who? Are you sure that you understand who all the relevant stakeholders are and when they should be engaged? Knowing who your stakeholders are and how they need to be engaged with from the start, will prevent any surprises later in the project. Should all individuals on the project be managed in the same way? Knowing your team and how to motivate them based on their needs will mean you get the best out of each of them. Make sure to get to know everyone in your project team upfront and work with them throughout the project to achieve a collective common goal. The answers to these questions will differ across industries, contexts and environments, however, they collectively provide a framework that will help you manage your team effectively. Use them regularly in checking that the team is optimising communication and collaboration to deliver a successful project. Our Analyze consultants are professionals in optimising communication and collaboration in project teams to find out more please get in touch.
If you missed parts 1, 2 & 3 of our “Linking to trends” series, you can read all about the key technology shifts for 2017 over here, the focus of product over projects here, and the continued use of agile and lean here. This week we’re looking at our final trend prediction for 2017: The changing role of the BA. Traditionally, the role of the Business Analyst (BA) has centred around requirements management, typically governed by specific analysis methodologies. Key skills include the ability to interpret, summarise and document business requirements in a way that would drive the fulfilment of the project lifecycle while also ensuring that there is a golden thread between technology and people as businesses look to streamline their processes. BAs are the glue that ensures alignment between what the delivery team is delivering and what the business units would like to achieve. They do this by asking the following core questions: Understanding a business to this degree allows the BA to develop a deep organisational knowledge of businesses and complex industries. This knowledge often leads to longstanding careers in organisations that may progress into project and programme management as the BA moves along their career path. However, we are seeing that with the trend towards more technology-focused solutions, more empowered and informed customers, a need to become more lean and agile, and a stronger emphasis on multi-skilled team members means the title “Business Analyst” is becoming less formal as emerging processes look at alternative approaches for gathering the intel they need. That said, the skills a BA brings to the table can’t be ignored. Therefore, it’s not about removing the role of the BA completely, but rather looking at how their skillset can be tweaked to better service fast-paced, technological environments where customer needs are more difficult to articulate. To align with Design Thinking and Lean Start-up approaches, the following customer-focused questions need to be thrown into the mix: Fundamentally, business analysis is becoming less of a documenting & requirements management skill as used in traditional change initiatives, and more of a problem solving & customer-focused skill which ensures business value across all types of change initiatives. But what does this mean for the traditional BA? It will become more important than ever before to design holistic business solutions that truly tap into the mind of the customer. Delivery teams will continue to need business analysis skills to ensure the balance between people, process & technology, but they will also be looking for that “something extra” to elevate their delivery capability. With this in mind, BA practitioners may need to consider more specialised roles. Business architects and product owners will become more popular choices. At Analyze, this shift is something we’re excited about. It opens new opportunities for growth and innovation while also pushing analysis, as a key competency, to keep evolving. To find out more about our thoughts on the topic, please get in touch.