Gantt chart

Lori Benson, who is an specialist contract manager, in her article for the PM Times for Project Managers, “4 Key Project monitoring steps to help you succeed”, talks about a critical aspect of a project Control and monitoring of a project. She starts her article with a short but important statement “Trust, but verify”

In the first couple of paragraphs she explains “why” she wrote the article, affirming that Project Monitoring is necessary in all Project Management Plans, verification should take place frequently trough the lifecycle of the project, and results of that control should not only be shared to supervisors, managers and top executives, but also they should be shared with the project participants. Helping you to get a successful flow of information, results, feedback and advice throughout the project. The 4 steps are explained below.

  1. Begin with a plan for project monitoring

Just like the milestones exercise that we applied in class, planning how to monitor could give the project a backbone and short term objectives. Project managers have to plan for how, when and what project they want to monitor, based on realistic targets and metrics. And it have to be regularly monitored Bi-weekly or worst case scenario monthly. Monitoring is often not linear, it will have ups and downs and inevitable change throughout the project, and therefore it will have to have requested monitoring, results reviews and feedback.

Pros: You will have an efficient control of the project and you will have the opportunity to adapt and change throughout the project to mitigate risk, take advantage of positive risk and have an inside view of the project provided by feedback

Cons: I think that it could be dangerous and you could enter into micromanage your employees and that can have negative impact. Also you have to analyze the quality of feedback obtained in order to apply it efficiently into the project. Parallel you could over stress your employees like the bell example in our noodle/marshmallow exercise.

  1. Reports to management

The reports written or not have to have a regular schedule, weekly, monthly or bimonthly showing the progress during that period. That enables project managers to identify actual or potential problems earlier so you can make adjustments, adapt and move forward. Top managers have to be alerted if problems arouse, or if the project is having problems meeting a milestone or objective. “When reporting to organizational leadership, project leaders should focus on results that indicate whether a strategy is relevant and efficient or not”

Pros: It can help you seize opportunities of the positive side of risk, and it will help you maintain flexibility towards future events

Cons: Depending on the type of company you may have to develop a “language” to communicate effectively with Top managers. In case of public companies you may alert investors that a strategy will bring a hit in the 1st quarterly earnings but it will have a positive impact in the long term.

  1. Recommend actions to improve on the project

As a Project management you have to avoid recommendations without previous foundation of planning and feedback from management, communicate based on budgeting and goal-setting without sustention. Recommendations and feedback should include corrective actions, preventative actions or changes in the plan or the project execution. Guidance should be as specific as possible. “Keep in mind the team’s own health and feedback: offer constructive criticism and praise when it makes sense to strengthen the goals of the project and the team individuals’ work too.”

Pros: Feedback, guidance and adaptability can be critical to the success of a project. Applying concepts recollected from feedback can motivate employees to, like Walt Disney said “Plus it”
Cons: You have to be aware that different “qualities” of feedback and as a project manager you will have to filter information in order to have better results.

  1. Confirm that actions are being followed

After getting feedback and correcting the strategy, Project managers have to confirm that the changes actually are being made. Verifying also that the project as a whole is staying on track.
The author also recommends to use automated tools and technologies to track member’s performance and response, like shared documents, feedback, forecast, Gantt Charts, etc. “At the most basic level, the project leader must track the differences between what was planned, and what is actually happening to ensure that project objectives are being met”

Pros: It can help you reassure that the measures are being taken and the project is still on track. It can help you understand the stage of the project in the current time.

Cons: It could be tide back to cons of number 1 you have to be very careful with micromanaging your employees.

References: http://www.projecttimes.com/articles/4-key-project-monitoring-steps-to-help-you-succeed.html

Best Buy, Yahoo and Telecommuting: The Problem Isn’t Distance-It’s Management

Distance isn’t the problem-management is.

Is telecommuting a privilege or a right? Telecommuting has become one of the most recent and effective ways of doing business. However, many people have debated weather it is a privilege or a right.

Telecommuting can be more efficient at times, however that depends on management. Recently, Marissa Mayers (Yahoo CEO) added a new policy against telecommuting. Best Buy has also brought about talks regarding banning telecommuting.

Telecommuting can be environmentally friendly and preferred by employees, especially those that have a long distance for commute. Telecommuting can motivate employees to work from where they want to work. It can also be very inefficient if those that telecommute are not paying attention to the work they have to get done.

Management really needs to take more action especially since Telecommuting is fairly new. I am not saying management needs to be micro managing, but they do need to step it up if they see that those telecommuting are taking advantage.  It seems that in order for a company to be successful if they want to telecommute, they need to set of training on how to effectively improve communication/management.

Operation can take a huge toll in the way things are being ran especially if not much attention is put. Those that telecommute may find it distracting to work effectively once they are sitting at home with a laptop surfing the web, eating dinner, listening to music ect. However, operation can increase if those that work at home find those distractions to be necessary for their production. If they feel that at work they are being pressured and constantly watched on.  We discussed how managers should develop pride and joy in work and how that effects production. If managers effectively carry out with that, employees may feel better about doing their job wherever they are.

In today’s tech world, it almost feels that telecommuting is almost essential rather than being a privilege. For example, I have worked in a company where we telecommute and we do this because everyone is doing a marketing project where they feel that are more concentrated at home, or other employees commute is so long that if they worked from home they could get a lot more done during the time spent on the commute. Management is on a 24/7 contact basis and we have employees that work great communicating effectively and production is great. However, we also have some employees that do not communicate all the time and we find ourselves slowing down on production. I think that it depends on the type of company and task, in order to determine if  telecommuting is a privilege or a right.

Overall,  management is extremely important if companies do chose to allow employees to telecommute. Management really plays a huge roll because they have to effectively communicate with employees and allow them to do their work without making them feel they are being hounded to deliver work on time.