project management, solutions, Teams for project management, work management

Work and Project Management in Teams – Common Themes (part 2 – getting organized)

By Mike Taylor, President of Innovative-e

Project Management What, Why, and How in Teams

In the last few blogs, we’ve discussed WHAT Microsoft Teams is and WHY it is an obvious choice for work and project management.  Now let’s see HOW Teams can be configured for a project and some ‘best practices’ to help with initial and long-term usage and adoption.

Organizing things in Teams

Before we just start creating stuff, let’s address the concept of ‘Taxonomy’.  The term Taxonomy was originally used in context of organisms, but it is also now commonly used to discuss organization of information.

According to Wikipedia:

Taxonomy is the practice and science of categorization or classification’. A taxonomy (or taxonomical classification) is a scheme of classification, especially a hierarchical classification, in which things are organized into groups or types. Among other things, a taxonomy can be used to organize and index knowledge (stored as documents, articles, videos, etc.), such as in the form of a library classification system, or a search engine taxonomy, so that users can more easily find the information they are searching for.’

The concept of making it easier for users to find what they are looking for is super important when talking about a platform like Microsoft Teams. By default, Teams allows users to organize Teams pretty much however they want. This is ok for individuals or very small groups but becomes really problematic when larger groups of people are trying to leverage similar information across multiple departments or organizations.

So if your project has more than just a couple of people (e.g., multiple people from many departments), you’ll want to have some consistency in how you organize Teams.  Furthermore, if there are multiple projects going on at any given time with shared resources (people) working on more than one at a time, it’s even more important that the different project Teams sites are similar so people can easily find what they are looking for.

If your organization has a Project Management Office (PMO), they may have standards for organizing project related information. You will want to consult them to understand these standards prior to getting started using Teams for project management.

Let’s look at an example

The following shows a Teams Taxonomy that is common and useful for a variety of reasons that we will explore later.

Except for the schedule in the ‘Projects’ tab and the PowerBI report in the ‘Project Report’ tab, all of the above functionality works within Microsoft Teams out of the box (i.e., no additional licenses are required).

We added Project for the web (P4tw) on the Project tab, but could have easily set the tab to Planner or another app for task tracking/management. Note there is an additional (minimal) license cost required for P4tw for those who need to create project plans and tasks. However, anyone with an Office 365 license can be assigned and update Project for the web tasks with no additional cost. 

We used PowerBI Pro for the Project Report. Another report could be made using an office app like Excel or Powerpoint as long as users have an office license.

Next up we’ll explore the actual steps to setup this type of configuration so you can use Teams for Project Management!

Microsoft Teams, project management, Teams for project management, Teams4PM, work management

Work and Project Management in Teams – Common Themes (part 1)

By Mike Taylor, President of Innovative-e

First step – common terminology

Let’s explore the components and processes that are commonly used to manage work and projects. Not everyone uses the same terminology for different things, so for the purpose of this discussion, it’ll be helpful to assign some labels to keep everything straight. So here goes…

Your organization has something that needs to get done that is new and needs completed by a specific date. You have been assigned or volunteered to lead it. We’ll call this effort a Project and you the Project Manager (or PM for short). This project is going to need several people from different departments to contribute their efforts – let’s call them Team Members. There are also several higher-level management folks that have a vested interest in the success of your project – let’s call them Executives.

What kind of things will go on during the life of your project? Obviously, there will the work itself that the team members do to produce outcomes. This work can be broken down into distinct items – let’s call these items Tasks. Inevitably, some of the tasks must be done in specific sequences i.e., one task needs to have another completed before it can start. Other tasks can be done in parallel, but all must be completed before the end of project. We’ll call these relationships Dependencies.

As the Project Manager, you are responsible for the outcome of the initiative. The collectively agreed outcome can be called Scope and defines what will and won’t be accomplished by the project. The person or group that wants (and typically pays for) the project is usually called the Sponsor. The sponsor will always want to know how long the project will take – this is called the Duration.

You know that to be successful at the end, you must make sure the team members are working effectively together and that the executives understand where the project stands at every point in time.  Furthermore, it is imperative that the team members surface challenges (or potential challenges that could happen) as soon as they are known to provide maximum time to solve or work around the challenge.  We’ll call the challenges that are present Issues and those that haven’t happened but could Risks.

To complicate things, this work is being done by folks in different departments and different geographic locations, some being in office and some working from home. We’ll call this a Virtual Team. Another key element of a project is often various forms of documents in all kinds of formats like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, etc. We’ll call these items project Artifacts. 

How is Microsoft Teams helpful?

So how does Microsoft Teams bring all this together?  Here’s a typical scenario:

  • The Project Manager creates a Microsoft Teams site for the Project
  • The Virtual Team Members are added to the site
  • Meetings are scheduled and stored in the Teams calendar and synchronized with Outlook calendar
  • Status is reported during the Teams meetings using voice, video, application/screen sharing, and whiteboard, where Project Budget, Duration, Issues & Risks are discussed as the team works towards accomplishing the Scope
  • Executives attend some of the meetings but can also access key Artifacts like status reports and meeting minutes on demand via Teams
  • Private Channels can be created for smaller or limited access team members to collaborate

All of the above functionality works within Microsoft Teams out of the box (i.e., no additional licenses are required). For more advanced capabilities like Dependency management, tools like Project for the Web can be added for those who need to create the Tasks. Note there is an additional (minimal) license cost required for PMs. However, anyone with an Office 365 license can be assigned and update Project for the web tasks with no additional cost. 

We’ll explore best practices for how to effectively set up and use Teams for Project Management in the next post.

Microsoft Teams, Productivity, project management, work management

The Rapid Rise of Virtual Work Management

Why Microsoft Teams is the emerging leader

By Mike Taylor, President of Innovative-e

The role of collaboration in successful outcomes for work that requires many humans and has any complexity at all cannot be overstated. If you’ve ever observed a construction project, you’ve seen small and sometimes large groups of people discussing certain tasks or activities planned for the day.

Sure, there’s architectural drawings, project plans, bills of materials, but all these things don’t accomplish the work – humans do. To make sure the planned activities of the day go smoothly, without one group disturbing the work of another and making sure everyone is safe, frequent collaboration is essential.

In the past, information work was accomplished in much the same fashion. In-person planning meetings, daily stand ups (again in-person), drop in/hallway discussions, etc. all helped people stay aligned on the work and maximize efficiency. What has changed recently is a re-alignment of where information work occurs.

We all have been affected by two forces that forever reshaped how information work occurs:

1) Cloud computing hitting almost universal availability when, at the same time

2) The pandemic hit

Organizations across the globe rapidly re-aligned work to remote and/or hybrid models. Suddenly, almost all information work was being done partially or fully by virtual teams.

We’ve established that organizations have adopted and continue to adopt full feature collaboration experience platforms to address the new work realities. For many, Microsoft Teams is this platform. So why centralize information work in Microsoft Teams? 

Bear with us for a bit of math and consider the transitive property that says if two things equal each other and a third thing equals one of the first two, then the third also equals the other. 

So it stands to reason:

If Successful Work/Project Management = Collaboration

and Collaboration = Microsoft Teams

then Microsoft Teams = Successful Work/Project Management

Work and Project Management solutions heretofore have focused on the job of managing tasks, leaving collaboration as an afterthought. This design made sense when data was being managed in an application-by-application fashion – i.e., each app has its own database(s), often in a separate client or cloud tenant. 

The app-by-app for work management model is turned upside down with Microsoft Teams. In Teams, users can remain in the same experience for all their collaboration needs which, as we’ve examined above, is core to work & project management. Further, Teams data is stored in the Dataverse and can be managed and integrated with hundreds of other apps via the Power Platform.

The combination of all office app productivity and unified communications in a centralized experience, built on top of a universal highly connected data source, coupled with extensible via low/no code automation and reporting suite, uniquely situates Microsoft to provide all the tools for work management. If organizations really want to transform work and project management, Microsoft provides the only platform that can deliver all the building blocks in one platform.

Microsoft Teams, PPM, Productivity, Project, project management, solutions, Teams4PM, work management

What is Microsoft Teams and why should you use it for Project Management?

By Mike Taylor, President of Innovative-e

What is Microsoft Teams?

According to Wikipedia: Microsoft Teams is a proprietary business communication platform developed by Microsoft, as part of the Microsoft 365 family of products. Teams (sic) offers workspace chat and videoconferencing, file storage, and application integration. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Teams, and other software such as Zoom and Google Meet, gained much interest as many meetings moved to a virtual environment. As of late 2021, Teams has about 250 million monthly users.

If your organization uses Microsoft Office (O365 or M365), chances are you are, or will be, doing most of your daily work in Teams. It’s kind of the Swiss army knife of collaboration that does everything from phone/video calls, messaging, email, calendar and meeting management, file editing & sharing/co-authoring, to application integration – without ever leaving the Teams experience.

Why use Teams for Work and Project Management?

It’s where work is happening

It is widely held that the majority of information worker work is ‘project’ by nature. Since most repetitive information work has been automated, that leaves humans to manage endeavors that have ‘project’ attributes, i.e. they are unique in scope/outcome, have a specific beginning and ending, and have some form of budget (hours, resources, etc.). 

So if the people in your organization are collaboration and doing most of their productivity & information work in Microsoft Teams, and the majority of this work is ‘project’ in nature, it only stands to reason that project management is happening in Teams. The only questions then is how well?

It’s extensible!

Getting everyone managing projects consistently in an environment they are already familiar and using like Teams is great, but what if more is needed?  Most people managing work of any complexity find that additional workflow or 3rd party data would be super helpful. Without this kind of automation, people resort to compiling information manually which is not fun and not always reliable.

Teams is built to work with the Microsoft Power Platform and Dataverse. These platform technologies securely aggregate data from multiple sources (currently 300+ and counting app integrations built in). Further, they allow for low code/no code development of work/project/business processes. This creates the ability to build in whatever ‘special sauce’ your department or enterprise has that creates strategic advantage and/or meets mission needs.

It seems clear that people in organizations that use Teams are managing work and projects there. The challenge is doing it in ways that create value and aren’t disruptive and frustrating. More on this in a future post…

#AmazingPM, project management, work management

How can you transform your work and project management into a competitive advantage?

By Mike Taylor, President of Innovative-e

This blog is based on a conversation Bryan Quick and I had during the January Episode of our podcast, “Are You Done Yet?” where we discussed the meaning of “Transforming work and project management into a competitive advantage.”  It was a fun conversation, and we hope you enjoy.  We’re always interested in feedback, so don’t be shy – contact us!  

Our goal is to transform project and work management into a competitive advantage.  Some would ask, what do you mean by “competitive advantage”? Project management is a necessary evil, right?  You must do it to get stuff done, but nobody wants to do it, nobody wants to build and maintain project plans except for the project managers.  All the workers say “It’s not my job.”  The developers or engineers, people getting stuff done, they’re like, “That’s too much, too much work.”  They hate it.

So reimagining project management for someone that is staffed to a project might mean that they don’t have to tell the project manager what their status is all the time and can just do their job.  Maybe re-imagining project management for a project manager would mean they don’t have to spend as much time asking people for things and chasing data. It’s a perpetual issue, finding things and aggregating data.  Using spreadsheets and emails and SharePoint lists and databases and everything else just to pull information in and put it places just to get something meaningful out and finally get to the point where we can decide – it’s a lot.

We’ve had many conversations with many, many customers over the years about how much time people are spending putting together statuses, whether on a PowerPoint deck or spreadsheet, or other tools just to show how the project is going on a weekly basis.  This artifact is typically just posted somewhere, and someone may or may not even look at it. So, transforming project management to people doing this would mean they don’t have to do that anymore since the system does it for them.

The most fundamental pillar to this concept is allowing everyone to participate in whatever role that stakeholder needs to participate in a way that is as easy as possible.  Traditionally, it’s been very hard for all people to participate.  Think about classic project and work management systems and PPM systems where you have a core set of folks like your project managers who have access to all the data.  But then you have your constituents, like executives and your team members that are doing the actual work.  You also have other people that are kind of on the periphery.  Getting all those people the right kind of licensing and getting better information in a way that it can be easily manipulated has always been a huge challenge.   

But there’s good news.  Modern cloud technologies are enabling these concepts to materialize in ways never possible before. Centralizing data on a common platform with the ability to extend and connect into virtually all work management systems creates the foundation for people and applications to collaborate more real time, thereby reducing the effort while getting more done.

We know that “transforming project and work management into a competitive advantage” is a heavy statement. This is about focusing on your best work, and your project management, what’s going on for your most important initiatives that your organization is working on. This is about moving beyond just keeping track of what’s happening to your project management, and improving your ability to execute on these projects dramatically better, faster, with less overall effort and with more predictable results.  This creates competitive advantage in your field, whether that be in healthcare or in financial services or whatever industry vertical you’re operating in.

Uncategorized

Customer case studies – a peek behind the scenes

By Mike Taylor (co-authored by Bryan Quick)

This post is a basically a summary of a conversation Bryan Quick and I had on the December episode of our podcast, “Are You Done Yet?” where we discussed a bit of the behind-the-scenes path to customer evidence/case studies.  It was a fun conversation, and we hope you enjoy.  We’re always interested in feedback, so don’t be shy – contact us!  

New customer stories for the New Year! 

2022 is going to be a big year for Innovative-e customer success stories, there’s no doubt about it.  It’s going to be about stories like the Microsoft-sponsored Southern New Hampshire University case study from late 2021.  This year is going to be about making sure that people are aware of how we are able to help with transforming their work in project management. 

Power Platform to automate key business processes 

We have a couple more customer stories in the works as well.  One of them, coming soon to a theater near you, is an equity firm in the healthcare area.  We talked with this customer for the case study, and it was a good exploration of where they were before we were able to come in and assist, and where they are now.  It’s been a short crisp sort of journey together, but a good one.  

This story is going to be about Microsoft Power Platform specifically and how it was used to automate this customer’s business processes. This is super exciting because it’s taking the ‘special sauce’ of their differentiation in the marketplace and how they approach business, and helping them scale. 

This equity management firm had started doing some work with other folks using the Power Platform, but they hit a wall, so they asked us to come in and assess the situation and determine the right thing to do going forward.  This assessment included determining if they should even be using the Power Platform or if off-the-shelf software might be a better route. It was a classic buy vs. build decision point that had to be examined and ultimately approved by their executive management.  

The customer felt that the assessment was objective and balanced weighing off-the-shelf products, for which the cost initially was a little lower, against using the Power Platform. Ultimately, the flexibility to really build to their special sauce led them to the conclusion that the Power Platform was best to build their solution. And they saw the need for flexibility not just to initially get it like they wanted, but also to continue evolving as processes change to keep that competitive advantage and not have to wait for a vendor to add features.   

After deciding to go with the low-code approach, they engaged Innovative-e to build the first couple of what will ultimately be an app suite consisting of many apps.  After a couple of months, the apps were fully developed, refined, tested, and deployed for use. The customer is now in a period where they are using, learning, refining needs and building backlogs for future enhancements to the first two apps while planning for new ones as well.  

edison365 full app suite to meet urgent C-level mandates 

Another story in the works involves a bank that we worked with to help them release all three modules of edison365 to address innovation/ideationbusiness case, and project management challenges.  We’re really excited about edison365 at Innovative-e as a key part of our “Transform work and project management at scale on the Microsoft platform” strategy.    

For this customer, it made sense to buy something off-the-shelf that does innovation managementbusiness case management, and project management on the Microsoft platform as a complete suite. They were looking for an end-to-end solution that was turnkey and configurable.  The app suite that includes edison365ideas, edison365businesscase, and edison365projects was super appealing, especially because it’s economical, and it furthers what they’re already doing with Microsoft on the platform. 

We followed our proximal progression framework to implement, as we always do with our customers, in a comprehensive way that maps their business processes to the configuration that gives them the solution that was right for them. 

Meeting customers where they are in their journey 

Over the years, Innovative-e has really embraced meeting people where they are.  These two customer journeys show how we do just that. The equity management firm needed their platform to be more customizable and more precisely built around their processes.  On the other hand, the financial firm was more flexible given their need for a fast solution deployed quickly to meet strategic time bound objectives.    

This represents two different points on a continuum that allows customers to go for fast or quasi-custom.  It’s a great feeling to be able to help people wherever they are there along their journey. Bryan: “Yes, it’s kind of fun not to be a one trick pony.” Mike: “Exactly!” 

Read the SNHU case study here: https://innovative-e.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/SNHU_FinalStory.pdf

See the episode of “Are You Done Yet?” from which this post was excerpted: https://youtu.be/TwpSUh_msEU

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf3uXZZg7bDnnMG5YXuMHZA?sub_confirmation=1

Uncategorized

Work smarter, not harder: realizing organizational value by reducing overhead, increasing productivity, and leveraging good integrations and value stream management

What if you could reduce your organization’s overhead to make more room for actual work and better productivity? Guess what? You can!

Gain work management freedom by understanding that work management systems, and the data within them – whether you’re talking about project management or agile software – is not the actual work, but a digital representation of actual work.

Innovative-e, a recognized leader in the PPM space with multiple awards from Microsoft, is driven to help organizations build, adopt and grow work and project management apps and systems. Our primary objective is to free people from the overhead of maintaining this data by the people doing and managing the work to leave more time for the actual work. Our customers have shown that this drives the need for multi-point integrations and is a critical part of the foundation for value stream management (VSM).

Video: An organic approach to creating value with work and project management integrations

Building these solutions is the easy part – it can be much harder to get people to adopt the new solution. And if people don’t use the work/project management solutions we help them build and put into place, the solution isn’t sustainable and will not promote the organizational growth that is often the object of the change in the first place.

Not just for the C-suite folks

Our solutions often are seen by the people at the C-level, but our customer entry point is generally the people who use the tools, like a project office or PMO, IT leadership, or software delivery leadership. While the C-suite guys may be looking to optimize value streams across the enterprise, we typically work with the people in the trenches. Usually the conversations we have with customers start simply and organically, identifying that we need to integrate disparate systems to reduce the overhead of entering the same data into multiple systems to thoroughly track the work being done. A proper integration also increases the fidelity of the data being entered, resulting in better info management. That, in turn, translates to better efficiency and outcomes for that team or organization.

The magic starts happening when individual tool owners see the broader implications for their team’s experiences when this overhead is reduced, productivity jumps, and efficiency improves. This buy-in from the individual tool level is a fundamental block in VSM.

Stepping beyond point-to-point integrations

While Innovative-e has enabled many customers to integrate their solutions and consolidate their data for many years with point-to-point integrations and/or data warehouse solutions, we’re fairly new to the world of multi-point integrations. When it became clear that multi-point integrations are the future, we arrived at a crossroad: we could either build our own multi-point tool, or we could partner with a tool provider. As we often advise our customers, sometimes the overhead of building your own solution can bog down the effectiveness of that solution. So we took our own advice and, instead of building our own tool, we researched the market and partnered with Tasktop, a world-class leader in the value stream management market recognized by industry analysts like Forrester.

Why Tasktop?

When we were researching VSM platforms and determining who we wanted to partner with, we looked at these key criteria:

  1. Does the product work well at what it does?
  2. Is it reliable, both technically and from an organizational level (does it work and is the company that provides it solid)?

We reviewed a number of demos of Tasktop’s VSM platform and attended classes to evaluate Tasktop’s suitability to provide a top-notch multi-point integration tool to bring to our customers.

It was an easy decision! With more than 60 integrations, most cloud-based, our customers who use Tasktop’s VSM platform, benefit from Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery/Deployment (CICD). In a world where software is frequently updated and changed, the CICD benefits our customers get when they use Tasktop’s VSM tool means they’re always up-to-date in a rapidly changing world, without the overhead of managing updates and upgrades themselves.

Tasktop also employs model-based integration. Innovative-e has built numerous custom integrations and have seen both customers and partners build custom integrations. We’ve learned the value of being able to model integrations through a graphical interface rather than managing with code and manual effort (which is yet more overhead). Spend less time mapping code, set up integrations faster, and dramatically reduce the time maintaining the integrations. Reducing all this overhead means fewer headaches for our customers, increased adoption of the tool, and more work time devoted to, well, work. That is work management freedom.

Work management freedom is our vision for our customers, and drives every solution we build and recommend for our customers. Partnering with Tasktop to take our integration solutions to the next level has given us the ability to offer our customers a best-in-class value stream management platform while we continue to bring our customers work management freedom through visibility, agility and control.

More info to help you maximize value

In March 2021, Innovative-e’s President, Mike Taylor, was asked to present at VSMDevCon. To learn more about how we encourage widespread organizational adoption, getting work management systems right and the keys to success for integrating multiple tools to realize maximum value for your organization, watch his presentation here: https://youtu.be/De0hiSFlTb0.

You can also check out the episode of our podcast, “Are You Done Yet,” a video podcast tackling your project management challenges, where Mike and our Business Development Guru Bryan Quick discuss value stream management, how our customers benefit from all-out VSM efforts, and our partnership with Tasktop.  https://youtu.be/4kgWgv9kVRY Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Android or Google, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, where you’ll find all the episodes of “Are You Done Yet” plus loads more content about value stream management, Microsoft work and project management tools, Microsoft Teams and more!

How-to

How to use a custom background image in Microsoft Teams

UPDATE as of 12/11/20: These instructions were written before changing your Teams background with a few clicks in the settings was a core functionality of the platform. Now it’s even easier to change your background! Read this for more info.

Got a messy background but too many conference calls to straighten up between meetings? Microsoft Teams has added the capability to use backgrounds during Teams meetings to hide your untended laundry piles or your lack of an extensive and telegenic private home library, but right now, your alt-backdrop choices are “background blur” and a selection of curated images with no readily apparent way to upload custom images.

While the curated images provided by Teams are pretty nice, you might want to upload a background that reflects how you’ve been spending your time during quarantine:

tiger king

animal crossing outside nook's cranny

Microsoft Teams doesn’t offer a one-click easy solution for uploading custom backgrounds (yet), but it can be done pretty easily if you’re comfy with poking around in your folders a little bit. These instructions are for Windows 10, but you can do it on a Mac, too.

  1. Open File Explorer (easily do this by holding the Windows key and the E key simultaneously).
  2. Click This PC.
  3. Select Windows (C:).
  4. Open the Users folder.
  5. Select your user profile.
  6. Click the View tab at the top of File Explorer.
  7. Check the Hidden items
  8. Open the AppData folder (Note: this won’t appear if you haven’t checked to see hidden items.)
  9. Open the Roaming folder.
  10. Open the Microsoft folder (Do not go to the Microsoft Teams folder by mistake!)
  11. Open the Teams folder within the Microsoft folder.
  12. Open the Backgrounds folder.
  13. Open the Uploads folder.
  14. Place the image you want within the Uploads folder.
  15. Once your image is in the Uploads folder, it should be visible from within Teams when you click the ellipsis and Show background effects.

Easy-peasy! Now you, too, can be part of The Simpsons couch gag on your Microsoft Teams meetings!

simpsons

How-to, Innovation

Exploring Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) – Three free ways you can spread joy today

In honor of  RAK Week (Feb 16-23) 2020, we’ve described three kinds of completely free actions that you can take today that will make someone’s day a little brighter – and likely yours as well!

We’ve all heard stories of random acts of kindness – scroll through virtually any social media platform and you’ll see evidence in scrawled notes, cups of coffee, and often just shared smiles. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all experienced more uplifting events in our lives more often?

rak

Start by taking a deep, relaxing, breath – yes, please, right now… Now, close your eyes, for just a moment, and recall how you felt the last time you received, offered, or witnessed a random act of kindness.

You’re smiling now, aren’t you? Here’s how to pass on those life-affirming vibes:

Engage with Others

A genuine smile and an enthusiastic greeting will go a long way to make others feel at ease. Have you ever noticed that when most customers are in service-oriented establishments, they focus only on their business at hand, and not upon the people who are helping them? Imagine interacting with people all day, yet not feeling seen, heard, or valued! Make the effort to connect with the people you encounter every day. Ask them questions – and really listen when they reply. They will appreciate your acknowledgment and you might learn something or even make a new friend!

Share Your Gifts

You and I are on a collective journey around our sun as it moves through our galaxy and the universe. We can salute our fellow passengers and enhance their travel by sharing our talents. Maybe it’s something as simple as reading to a child or as unique as teaching someone how to tie the perfect fishing fly. Be open to letting people gain a glimpse of your inner world. Whatever your gifts, sharing your passions with others will expand their perspective; your example will encourage them to explore their own abilities which, in turn, will also add to the richness and diversity of our world.

“How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time.” – Morgan Freeman

Prioritize Humanity

We all feel better when we know that we are safe, we are understood, and we are accepted. Caring… compassion… kindness… these traits are frequently reserved to describe humans. As such, the burden is on us to be mindful of actually exhibiting characteristics of humanity in our day to day lives. Simple gestures of kindness often have impacts far beyond the moment. Open the door, hold the elevator, or share the load with someone who has their hands full (literally or figuratively).

In what ways can you be kind today to your coworkers, your friends, your family?

We’re all in this together – let’s all make life’s experience awesome! There are thousands of ways you can spread joy! For inspiration, visit: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/

How-to, Knowledge, project management

Valentine lovin’ for PPMin’

‘Tis the time of year for long-stemmed roses, heart-shaped pink frosted doughnuts, pastel conversation hearts and elementary school paper valentines… Beyond romantic gestures, modern Valentine’s Day observations now frequently extend to offering tokens of gratitude to all those we appreciate. This year, why not direct some sweet attention to all those hard-working folks who do their part in supporting your organization’s Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) eco-system?

heart tree Everyone playing a role – from the Tier 1 help-desk, to the Business Intelligence experts, to those championing Organizational Change Management, and the myriad of individuals connected to these roles – deserves kudos for their unique contributions to your organization’s mission.

Embrace the contributions of the parts

Despite the cross-organizational nature of PPM, it is helpful to occasionally isolate the moving parts and formally recognize the crucial role that each function plays in the strength and success of the whole. Openly sharing the significance of the contributing roles allows for reflection upon the inherent teamwork within the organization. Publicizing functional impacts helps each individual to contextualize how their personal contributions truly matter. In turn, deeper recognition of the value their colleagues bring can also be achieved. Embracing the contributions of all the parts helps elevate your PMO’s vibe.

Celebrate the achievements of the whole

Similarly, highlighting the influence of synergy reminds all the players of their collective goal and underscores the familiar axiom, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Being part of a cohesive team feels good – even when you don’t win all your games. If your organization has not yet conducted ‘A Year in Review’ for the past calendar year, mid-February is a perfect time to say thank you for a job well done and frame the year to come. Celebrating your PMO’s successes is a great way to spread some love!

 “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”

– William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Spread some Valentine’s lovin’ for PPMin’

Looking for inspiration on how to express the Valentine’s spirit beyond the company newsletter and donuts in the breakroom? Here’s a flexible idea that’s as appropriate for the cash strapped start-up as it is for the fully flush monopoly (and all budgets in between) and will effectively convey your heart-felt regards:

Have your PMO leadership hand sign “Valentines” to each team member thanking them for their unique contributions to the organization. These can be store-bought, created in house, or custom-printed. Enhance the sentiment by including a gift-card. Consider the standards, such as a popular local restaurant, theater, museum or zoo, or get creative with “coupons” for lunch-with-the-boss, a half-day off, or a birthday holiday. Really level-up with a profit-sharing bonus reflecting the company-wide results of the previous year!