How do you identify an Inaccurate Forecast from a Project Report?

thCAAEI98VDelivering to budget is an important skill for a Project Manager. As a result, most organisations require their Project Managers to update the projects’ forecast cost each month and compare this to the original budget. The intent of updating the forecast each month is to ensure that the organisation has the most up to date information available regarding the financial performance of the project. This allows early warning if the project is having problems, allowing the Project Manager to signal a potential budget overrun as soon as information comes to hand.

The problem in practice is that most Project Managers do not like to give bad news, so when things start going wrong they continue to report that things are doing fine. Continue reading

Commercial Acumen Training – Keeping the ball rolling when the workshops stop

facilitation-520x245At BRS we have had terrific feedback from the organisations that have collaborated with us to develop a customised commercial acumen training program with them. Both public and private sector organisations are realising the benefits of putting their staff through a range of commercial acumen training to develop their people and transform their commercial culture. This training ranges from fundamental commercials such as understanding your supply chain and service providers, through to advanced courses that focus on areas such as commercial negotiation, tender evaluation team effectiveness and major project procurement.

Consistently though, we have learnt that as we wrap up each session and thank our participants for their active participation, the learning process has just started.  The question then focusses on how do we apply these commercial acumen principles and practices in to our organisation and the procurement of future projects? This is important in ensuring that value for money is obtained from what has been a significant investment of money and time from the organisation and its people.   Continue reading

Role Clarity in projects and bids needs to go deeper than the ‘what’ and the ‘who’ through a RACI

major projects and bidsRole clarity on a project or a major bid is a critical element to success.  Along with understanding the big picture and ensuring communication is flowing through the team, it ranks up there as a key priority you should look to establish as you form and develop a high performing team.

In terms of how you achieve role clarity, you will usually bring the key people in to a room for each area of the project or bid and work through the development of a role clarity matrix.  The role clarity matrix is a visual representation of all the activities or tasks that are required to be delivered with the appropriate people assigned to support the delivery of these activities.  From here, you then look to challenge the draft role clarity matrix around gaps, duplication and whether or not you have each person playing to their strengths. This step is often overlooked despite its importance in ensuring that people and sections of a project or bid are not working in silos or working in a vacuum unclear on how others can assist them in delivering on their role linked to the bigger picture outcomes we are looking to achieve.

The benefits of a role clarity matrix are significant, particularly in the early stages of a project or major bid. These include: Continue reading

Key elements of role clarity creating alignment for project and bid teams

role clarityRole clarity is critical in the forming process of new project and bid teams. Project team members need to know what’s expected of them, where the boundaries are and what success looks like in order for them to feel safe in the team, empowered to make decisions and be pro-active.

This doesn’t mean that project team members adopt an ‘it’s not in my job description’ attitude, but rather empowers them to be more proactive as they are not confused as to where they should focus their efforts thus freeing up energy to be more productive.

Role clarity is a security need and is important for getting the basics right as a Project Director or AMT member when creating an environment for success. We cannot ask project team members to be committed and highly motivated if their security needs are not being met.  Ensuring everyone is clear on both their role and what success looks like is a critical focus area for any Project Director or AMT member to create an environment of trust, teamwork and collaboration. Continue reading

Collaboration by Alignment

aligned-arrows-483x367There is a strong focus on collaboration and its importance to success. Collaborative working practices apply between leaders and their colleagues and direct reports or between organisations. When it comes to major projects, more and more clients are wanting to ensure right from the start (in fact even before a tender comes out!) that each party can work together collaboratively.

But what actually is collaboration? Is it about keeping the other party happy? Well, partly it is – but this happiness should be the by-product of having a best for project or outcome mindset. Collaboration isn’t about win/lose or master/servant or self-sacrifice, it’s an arrangement where everyone wins and you work together, constructively. You may not always agree with the other party, but you need to have alignment in the end goal of mutually beneficial project success. Continue reading

High Performance and being comfortable with the uncomfortable

comfortable-with-the-uncomfortableI have the privilege of working with a range of different bid, project and leadership teams.  The work I particularly enjoy is working with high performance teams who are driving outstanding outcomes and working together as one team.  I am often asked what separates an average team from a high performing one?  How do they operate on a day to day basis?

There have been a number of blogs we have written in BRS addressing the above questions around high performing teams and organisations and how they operate. A more relevant question that really hones in on high performing teams and individuals that I have observed is what is the one thing that stands out with them from other teams and individuals that makes them high performing?  The answer to this in my opinion is that they are comfortable with the uncomfortable and they actually thrive in it.  Continue reading

Leading with Vulnerability – From Fake to Fearlessly Flawed

fake-to-flawedThere are so many occasions where I reflect on Brené Brown’s TedTalk on shame and vulnerability.

Brenė Brown is a social researcher, self-proclaimed storyteller and expert on social connection. She has conducted thousands of interviews to determine what lies at the root of social connection, claiming it to be vulnerability and authenticity.

Her 2010 presentation had a huge impact on me because it gave me the permission as a leader to be imperfect.

In so many teams and organisations, human connection is often missing from the workplace – especially in senior leadership positions. We are taught to keep a distance from one another and project a certain image that is often characterised by confidence, competence, control and authority.

For me, this projection became really uncomfortable early on. I began to realise that in the pursuit of projecting what I thought a leader should be, I was compromising my authenticity by covering up my vulnerabilities.

I felt there was something inherently missing from being able to take my teams from performing well, to high performing. Continue reading

Have you been conditioned or are you living authentically?

frazzled-career-womanI was chatting to a team mate recently about the choices we make in life and how our identity, self-belief and trust in others feeds our thinking and decisions.  Our thinking is developed through our childhood and is influenced by our role models and experiences.  Whilst largely unnoticed, we begin to see our responses conditioned through increased responsibilities as we move out of our teens into adulthood.

This conditioning pushes us down a path of decision making with long term impacts that we may not necessarily appreciate at the time.  We pursue roles that make us safe and give up our passions to focus on work in an inpatient effort to climb the corporate ladder. We sacrifice the things we love to spend more time with partners, buy houses and pursue a stable job.  As we get older and have kids we become more conservative in an attempt to become the perfect parent or partner. Continue reading

Putting your customer first; lessons from Walt Disney

walt-disney-world-orlando-floridaI have been travelling in the US on a family holiday.  With three young children, we have spent most of the time in Orlando, Florida visiting the various theme parks of which there are many.  Of all the theme parks, they are all operated by a few different organisations.  The major two organisations that operate the majority of the theme parks is Disney and Universal Studios.

What is fascinating when you do an intense two week period of visiting many theme parks, you start to pick up some key insights.  In particular, you notice what separates one theme park operator from another particularly in the area of being customer centric and focussed on the customer experience which Disney do in an exceptional manner. I have not seen an organisation do it as well right from the time to you buy the tickets through to the experience you have throughout the park and beyond it.  Continue reading