Roadblocks to Successful Project Management

I found this article very interesting and informative. It talks about the five major road blocks to successful project management and provides solution. In my entire working career, I have noticed that it is really hard for a project manager to perform well consistently especially when they are working with terrible project management tools. As mentioned in the article, I also think the major problem is that there are so many project management tools and apps available that are more complex and time-consuming than the project itself. These tools are usually designed in such a way that it can be used for any projects and this make is hard to customize them as per our need. The following are the top challenges faced by the project managers with the solutions discussed in the article.

  • Too much time is spent for searching project assets and documents: One of the major challenges faced by the project managers is that they spent too much of time in searching emails, reports, deliverables, proposals, lists etc. even when all the information is in the same place. I have seen in many instances that as the projects advances further massive information is collected and even with all the information located at one place it takes so much time to locate the specific file. This can take up major time from the project. Thus, as mentioned in the article, it is important to use the app that allows you to do powerful searches, which in return helps you to save time that would have been otherwise spent for searching information from the massive data collected throughout the project.
  • Team is all over the place: The article states that around 30% to 45% of the employees work remotely and it gets really hard keep track of things especially when team members are working on the same tasks. The breakdown in the communication can cause wastage of time and unnecessary stress. I think the major problem here is many project management applications do not have collaborative features and it gets harder to keep track if so many people are working on the same thing. I like the article’s solution of using a web-based tool with a mobile access and strong collaborative features. This way each team member stays in loop and is notified immediately when someone makes post, comment or updates the document.
  • Priorities are shifting: As we all know, there can be many changes in the project as it progresses. Some of the common changes are project goals, budget, timeline, changes in the scope and reallocation of resources. The solution to this is to make sure that everyone has a strong visual representation of the most up-to-date project progress and timeliness.
  • Individual goals are not clear: With so many members in a team it is always hard to keep track of who is doing what. So it is important to make use of individual to-do lists and work flows so that there is no task redundancy. We used the same approach while working on the project management class. Each team member had their own to-do list, which helped us to stay focused on the task and reduce redundancy.
  • Using wrong tools: As mentioned in the article, I have also noticed that many project managers try to use several different applications to complete tasks bit by bit. This can cause a serious waste of time as it takes more time to update the team member through separate application. So the solution to this is to use one platform that allows you to build your own process. There are some applications that have everything in one application such as smart searches, mobile access, collaborative features, and individual to-do lists. These kinds of platforms can definitely help project manager to be more efficient and productive.

Are there any other major road blocks to successful project management that you want to share and are not mentioned in this article?

Can project management software save your company money?

In the last post I talked about trends in project management and mentioned the most up and coming trend being project management software. I wanted to expand on this topic and show how project management software is not only a trend in project management, but also an important tool in saving money within the project itself as well as a way to save your company money. In a sense, project management software puts business owners in the driver’s seat of the company’s profitability. It also helps businesses organize, promotes collaboration and provide the business with the ability to track and plan everything related to any project they may have actively running. Project management software allows the company to track the success of multiple projects occurring simultaneously, individually and collectively. For these many reasons and more project management software can be a great and successful tool in saving a company money.

In the business world time is money and getting employees up to speed on projects ultimately can cost a company a lot of money. If a new employee takes over an existing project or joins a project team, the time it takes to train him is money spent that can otherwise be avoided with project management software. PM software can save a company money by providing a quick and simple way for employee to gather the information they need on a project and have a time-line provided for them of what has already occurred with the project and what still needs to be done.

PM software  also saves companies money by creating an Icloud based filing system. Rather than a company wasting time and money searching for notes, files and documentation, everything exists within Icloud storage system for the PM software making it easily accessible for all that may want to look anything up at any time. This type of filling system makes it much more more comprehensive than a standard filling system and allows for less error and more money savings in the physical filling.

PM software can also serve as a training tool for the business as it is self-contained. This process can save a company a lot of money as well that would otherwise be spent on trainers or on salaries of existing employees to train new employees or staff. The software has the ability to teach employees on how the company manages projects and the tasks that go into completing each and every project.

The final value savings can be found in correcting PM mistakes and making sure they are not costly ones. Mistakes can cause a company to not only loose profits but also customers which in turn causes a future loss of income to the business. Mistakes also require a company  to spend time correcting the mistake that could have been spent working on new tasks or finalizing the project. PM software can help prevent all of these issues and ultimately saving the company money.

As pointed out in these many cases, project management software is not only crucial in managing a project easier and with less confusion, but it is also a key component in cost savings which is on every companies agenda now a days.


Can a Non-technical Background Stunt Your Growth?

Becoming a project manager is definitely something that interests me.  After spending the last few years working with project managers on a daily basis, I think I have acquired some basic knowledge.  However, where I work, the vast majority of project managers come from a technical background.  Previously, they were engineers who worked their way up.  It makes sense; they know the products and can speak coherently to the customer about specs, processes, etc.  So it has me thinking, how can someone like me with an accounting/finance background become a successful project manager?

So I read a few articles online, and it seems that the overall response is that a person does not need a technical background to become a project manager.  Well, that’s good news, but how do I overcome the technical deficiencies in order to be successful?  The following are a few ideas that I pulled from these articles:

Use your strengths

I mean this in two ways.  First, if you are not technically strong, then hopefully it means you have management/leadership skills.  Use the “softer side” of management to lead your team.  People skills such as managing conflicts, creating a positive, collaborative environment, and motivating are all valuable and useful skills.  The second meaning comes from the people themselves.  I once was told that being a good manager does not mean that you know all the answers but that you are able to surround yourself with all the right people.  The people you are managing are full of knowledge; lean on them to help you through the technical material while you learn the ropes.

Educate yourself

So you might not have a technical background, but if you see yourself staying in a certain field for a while, then it might be time to put the student hat back on.  This doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school to take a class, but it does mean putting forth an effort to learn.  Pay close attention to everything that is going on around you, ask questions when you don’t understand something, and even do your own research.

Admit when you need help

In other words, do not pretend that you know everything.  Acknowledge when there is a gap in understanding.  Show your team you respect them by not faking it; they will respect you more if you ask for the help when you need it.


Overall, if you can utilize your management skills from previous experiences, put forth an effort to learn your new environment, and work to understand your team, then a program management position can be within reach.


What was your background before becoming a project manager?  How has it helped you to succeed?

Have you ever worked with a project manager who did not have the technical background in regards to the project you were working on?  How did you feel it affected the project?



Project management trends in business

Project management began with its roots in IT and over the last few years has transitioned into the vast majority of the business world. These days’ project managers can be found in all aspects and job functions within the business world. With this transition there are several other trends that can be found that are shifting the direction of project management in the near future. These days many business organizations are becoming more creative by modeling the typical project management role, that use to be found within IT roles, into all functions of the business to ensure successful project completions. With these changes we have seen several trends that are shaping and guiding the principles of project management. These new trends include the move to cloud based project management systems, online project management and collaboration tools, more reliance on resource management, and geographically distributed teams.

The move to cloud based systems is becoming the norm as we move further into 2014.Most companies are allocating resources in order to move to cloud-based project management tools in order to be able to support project scheduling and collaboration of ideas and tasks. Companies have created highly functional and Innovative tools such as LiquidPlannerAtTaskProjectManager.comWrike, Gantter and of course the leader in the market Microsoft Project. These companies will continue to re-engineer their project management programs domain as more firms take advantage of web-based project management tools.

LiquidPlanner example


As mentioned above the use of online collaboration tools is on the rise and many companies are moving in this direction. Collaboration platforms are taking over the typical and old fashioned web-based document sharing business solutions that have been around for several years. These seamless platforms are just another innovative trend in the simplifying of project collaboration. The most used and popular collaboration tools used in project management are tibbrAsanaTrello, and Siasto used manage tasks and assist in project management document sharing and organization. As the project management collaboration application business develops, most platforms will begin to provide an integrated collaboration suite instead of separate document management, sharing and messaging tools.

Resource management has always been a key component of project management, but with newer trends it has become a very important aspect to take into consideration. With most company’s scheduling and project data in a central location, resource management becomes a very realistic and possible option. The integration of project schedules with task tracking and time keeping, can all be used to obtain a overall project view and always have the ability to view project checkpoints

The final trend we seem to find is that of geographically distributed teams. As companies leverage the use of collaboration platforms they also have the ability to view into the project at any time as well as the visibility to view all aspects of the project virtually. With the trend available, the trend in virtual/distributed teams will grow with the ease that project management platforms offer. Collaboration platforms help facilitate the obstacles of communication, virtual meetings, and finding project management talent in remote locations. With communication, document sharing, virtual conferencing, and project visibility all being features within new PM software, the trend to remote project management teams is one we only see growing in the near future.



The Frustrations of Working within a Matrix Organization

The matrix organization is a relatively new concept when it comes to an organizations structure.  A matrix organization is a hybrid between a project management structure and a functional hierarchy (Larson & Gray 74).  The exhibit below shows different types of matrix organizations.

As a defense contractor, my company is most closely aligned with the project matrix (also known as a strong matrix).  Whereas I understand the benefits of the matrix organization (promotes higher efficiency, creates cross-functional relationships, etc.), I find that many of my daily frustrations stem from this type of organization.  I often feel that I have too many bosses, and sometimes they seem to be blissfully unaware that I have responsibilities on other projects and/or for other managers.  Communication is another issue because I either receive the same e-mail from five different people, or I do not get communicated with at all.  There have been many instances where a coworker has received a piece of vital information from one of their project managers, and I hear nothing because my project manager thinks the information should have come from my finance manager.

So now that I have identified all these challenges, here are some suggestions to follow in order for the matrix organization to work successfully:

Define your role and each manager’s role

Talk with the functional manager about what is expected from you and what he/she thinks your role is within a project team.  Additionally, each project manager has different expectations, so speak with him/her at the beginning of the project.  An open dialogue about what is expected from you as a team member and him/her as the manager can be very beneficial.  Work out any ambiguous areas right away.


Communication is key!  Keep multiple managers in the loop about your work load and your deadlines either in a formal status report or informally during staff meetings.  Ask that you be included on the distribution list for vital communications.  If any issues arise, communicate them as soon as possible.  Project managers should also make sure that they have a regular form of communication with each of their team members.

Embrace diversity

Lastly, take advantage of the matrix organization.  It provides employees with the opportunity to make connections with other employees in different functional organizations.  Project managers should encourage an open team atmosphere.  As a team member you can learn about different areas in the company that interest you as well.  Who knows, you may find a new area of interest!


What type of organization does your company utilize?  Do you think it is the proper organization for how your company operates?

What are some of your personal experiences (good or bad) with the matrix structure?



Larson, E. W., & Gray, C. F. (2014). Project Management: The Managerial Process (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Project Managers and Business Analysts Working Together

PMI has created a new certification for Business Analysts.  I think this reflects a continuing interest and growth in the profession of business analysis – creating the right requirements to maximize value and limit change in new product development.  Of course, this is beneficial to the project manager and the project as a whole.

A few months ago my company hired a business analyst in an existing group.  The addition of this BA to the software team was advocated by the director of software project management and reports directly to that person.  When an organization introduces a new position or function into a team where people know their roles or, at least, know which functions they typically fulfill, there is opportunity for both increased productivity and confusion.  This has prompted me to think about the responsibilities o the project manager (PM) and the business analyst (BA).  Some view the PM and BA as two sides of the same coin–complementary, but mutually exclusive.

According to the Project Manager’s Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and the Business Analyst Body of Knowledge (BABOK), the roles are defined as follows:

  • The PM manages the project.  “Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to provide activities to meet the project requirements.”
  • The BA identifies the business needs.  “Business analysis is the set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.”

In many projects there will be opportunity for overlap that can cause conflict.  Those areas include:

  • Scope Management. A conflict can arise when the project schedule, owned by the PM is impacted by the inclusion of new requirements from the BA who owns the solution scope.
  • Communication Management. Conflicts can arise if either the PM or BA is aware of project needs that the other is not.  The PM should not make unilateral decisions.  Likewise, the BA should not make commitments without consulting with the PM.
  • Risk management. All project and product risks must be appropriately identified, and strategies to avoid those risks developed.
  • Requirements Management. The PMBOK includes collecting requirements.  This is, of course, a BA function and can be a cause for confusion between the PM and BA if not well aligned.

Recommendations to encourage a successful working relationship between the PM and BA (Enfocus Solutions):

  • Clear, documented, and mutually agreed roles and responsibilities activities.
  • Plan of when BA deliverables that will be produced that is incorporated into the overall project management plan.
  • Implement mechanisms to promote open communication.
  • Openly discuss the reporting relationship.
  • Both roles should actively engage the business sponsor.
  • Build a partnership based on mutual trust and respect.
  • Work through conflicts with clear and frequent communications.


What is the relationship like between the PMs and BAs in your companies?

Are the responsibilities of these roles clearly defined in your companies?  Are those role definitions always respected?

Has anyone ever served as both PM and BA?