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!

 

Innovation, Knowledge, Productivity, project management

Specialize AND Generalize – a Case for Generalists in Every Business

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to consult with multiple medical specialists. Among the many fascinating aspects of these encounters, what stood out to me the most was what was missing! In reflecting upon the lack of holistic perspective in patient care, I was reminded of how valuable generalists are in business endeavors everywhere. Are you actively engaging your generalists?

Here are a few ways generalists can help your business:

Generalists are not vested in how you’ve always done it

Specialists have frequently spent years perfecting their methods. They are the highly trained, highly skilled, and highly vested in the solutions they’ve created. In our rapidly changing world, sometimes the optimal solution has its roots in unexpected and seemly foreign fields. This is at the heart of knowledge transfer and often leads to amazing innovations. Generalists, by definition, know a little bit about a lot of different things. This broader exposure allows them to quickly grasp the essence of a situation, consider whether similar challenges in other disciplines might have bearing, and follow the logic along a path often dismissed or completely unseen by those with more concentrated professional experience.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

– Albert Einstein

Generalists see the big picture

The wide-ranging exposure that generalist have typically leads to greater experience in overarching organizational roles than that of their specialist counterparts. Their experience affords them a 50,000 foot view of both the interconnection among individual business functions and the influence of forces outside the organization, such as regulatory agencies; competitors; customers; and trends or events that may impact the company or the industry as a whole.

Generalists are flexible

Typically, generalists also have a solid command of the many soft skills necessary for business success. While the responsibilities overseen by generalist may vary considerably, what most have in common is that their job descriptions are, at least in practice, loosely defined (such as manager) and their day-to-day tasks include a robust blend of problem-solving, decision-making, team-building, communications, negotiations, and leadership skills. Their behaviors, as well as their thinking, are inherently flexible making generalists exceptional at delivering out-of-the-box ideas that are both creative and innovative.

Actively engage your generalists – and leverage their progressiveness, vision and flexibility!

How-to, Innovation, Knowledge, Productivity

Slay your dragons by eating your frogs

Welcome to a new month, of the new year, in a new decade! Are you feeling the clean-slate vibe yet? Ready for a fresh start? This article will point you in the direction of greater productivity with a tried-and-true method to more quickly achieve whatever professional and personal resolutions you’ve set your sights on.

May your quest begin!

here be dragons map

Here Be Dragons!

Facing yet unexplored territories often conjured fears of imagined dangers in the hearts and minds of medieval adventurers. Dragons represent a nearly universal way to express that sentiment. In today’s world, our dragons may more aptly represent those goals that we tell ourselves we want but have not yet achieved, those desires that seem too intimidating to pursue. Perhaps you’d like to switch careers, write a book, or pursue a new hobby. Sometimes it is simply inertia holding you in place. Consider eating some frogs for breakfast to get you knocking down those aspirations!

Frogs for Breakfast?

Okay, so not real frogs! Frogs are those tasks that you dread doing, the ones that you actively avoid but you must still accomplish, those things you waste time procrastinating! A business frog might be a writing a challenging performance review. Doing the dishes could be an example of the ugliest frog in your home life. This technique works wherever you could gain efficiencies. The notion is that by tackling the worst item on your list right off the bat, that action will leave you energized to tackle the things you’d prefer to be doing for the rest of the day. So, yes, frogs for breakfast!

“Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

-Mark Twain

Personal Productivity Conquered

The prescription for slaying your dragons by eating your frogs is simply this: 1) frame out your dragons with the specific tasks that must be done, 2) identify your frogs, and 3) eat one or more each morning.

Happy New Year!! Here’s to your success!

#AmazingPM, ALLinPPM, How-to, Knowledge, Project, Project for the web, project management, work management

Where is my project portfolio?

The Project for the web service from Microsoft is an intriguing project manager experience in the sweet spot between “back of the envelope” planning of Roadmap and Planner, best used perhaps for a sense of timing and high-level resource estimates, and the full rigor of project management with the comprehensive toolset of Project Online and its attention to details like costs, risks, issues, and resource workload management. Project for the web challenges the status quo for traditional users of enterprise PPM software with a simplified interface, easy to adopt, and an engine under the hood power users will love.Eoin11182019no1

Project for the web looks little like the Microsoft PPM tools familiar to most. At first, you may be lost looking for the projects you’ve created using Project for the web. You may find them on the Project Home page, under either the Favorites section (if you’ve marked any as a favorite) or in with the recently used or modified projects.eoin111819no2

You access Project Home by clicking the Project link in the App Launcher.eoin111819no3

The link to the Home page appears as a “home” icon: eoin111819no4 eoin111819no5

These out of the box views of Project for the web will no doubt be augmented soon by product offerings from Microsoft Partners, if such products have not been announced already. In the meantime, one can build one’s own applications to view, report on, and/or act on project data using the Common Data Service (CDS) and PowerApps. Here is a simple recipe to build a viewer for all the projects shared with you in Project for the web.

  1. Log in to O365 with credentials that can access Project Online and PowerApps.
  2. Launch PowerApps (powerapps.microsoft.com).
  3. Click Create then select Canvas app from blank.
  4. Name the app (e.g. “Pftw QuickView”) in the App Name* field, select the Tablet radio button, and click the Create (Skip the introductory tour if prompted). (Save the app (Click File, then Save) and autosave will begin to happen as you make changes moving forward.)
  5. On the Insert ribbon, select Vertical Gallery and a gallery screen will be added, populated with sample data. Search for the term “proj” in the data source dialog and notice the number of available CDS entities for Project.eoin111819no6
  6. Select the Project entity from the list of data sources and the vertical gallery display should switch from sample data to values from your Project environment and now you have a view listing all the projects in your portfolio!eoin111819no7
  7. All new projects created using Project for the web will generate an “Untitled project” project until the title is changed. If you want more detail than an untitled title, follow these steps:
    1. Rename the gallery you just created (e.g. “Gallery_MyPortfolio”).
    2. On the Insert ribbon, select Vertical Gallery and a new gallery screen will be added, again populated with sample data. Drag the new gallery side by side with the 1st gallery.eoin111819no8
    3. Rename the new gallery (e.g. “Gallery_ProjectTasks”). Change the new gallery items to be [“Portfolio_MyGallery”.Selected.’Project Tasks’]. In our example so far, if you used the same naming suggestions given, the Items for the Gallery_ProjectTasks gallery would be Gallery_MyPortfolio.Selected.’Project Tasks’.eoin111819no9
    4. You can make the viewer “prettier” and easier to understand by adding labels above each of the viewers and you can change the data fields that get shown.
    5. Press F5 to run the application to preview it works.
    6. Publish the application to share with whom you like if you like.

This has been a very brief overview describing one approach to viewing content in your Project for the web portfolio. Subsequent posts will show how to leverage not only the portfolio but also the Grid, the Board and the Timeline, as well as how to use Project for the web with robust project management techniques such as risk management.

#AmazingPM, ALLinPPM, Innovation, Knowledge, project management

Recognizing the Wins of Failure

We’ve all heard stories of famous failures – in sports, in music, in medicine, in invention…  our entertainment is replete with fictional versions of the same.  What is it that fascinates us about failure?  And how can we use failure as a springboard for success?

Most of us also remember first-hand experiences with failures of our own that shaped our lives.

 Here are a few of the gifts that failure offers.getty_168325476_349217

Failure Clarifies and Refines Motivation and Goals

Sometimes failure is an invitation to delve more deeply into a personal and profound understanding of the ancient Greek aphorism, “know thyself”.  Whether the failure is with the optimal recipe for your favorite desert, the design of an alternative energy mode of transportation, or an aspect of your interpersonal relationships, failure helps us to become clear on the fine details and essential elements of what you really want.

Failure Inspires and Fuels Determination and Stamina

There is nothing quite like falling on your face, literally or metaphorically, to connect with your grit!  Failure, especially public failure, is a situation most people typically find intensely uncomfortable.  These unpleasant feelings provoke an equally or more intense resolve to overcome the obstacles just encountered – along with any other potential roadblocks that may arise.  In this way, failure drives the perseverance required to get the job done.

Annotation 2019-09-04 082546

Failure Builds and Fortifies Courage and Action

failure

While anticipation of failure may lead to dithering indecision, actual failure, ironically, often leads to focused achievement in the face of fear.  The experience of failure alters your outlook on conceived outcomes.  If “the worst” has already happened, then you are more willing to risk ABC (Audacious-Bold-Courageous) measures towards the potential of living your goal.

So, now that you recognize the wins of failure, fail fast and fail often!!!

This piece was written by Sylvie Fortier, one of the Project Managers at Innovative-e. Sylvie Fortier is an experienced leader of culturally and geographically diverse technical and non-technical teams.  She has contributed to fledgling start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, and organizations in-between, supporting functions from strategy development to full product lifecycle management.  Whatever the role, Sylvie is passionate about cultivating creativity, innovation, and the pursuit of continuous improvement – for individuals, their teams, and society at large.  She is particularly fond of Thai food and delights in photography, travel, and SCUBA diving as well as everyday adventures with her teenage twins.