Where’s Me Jumper: Putting smarts into Project Management !

Everything seems to be upgrading to a smarter version these days. Even jackets ! with Google and Levis recently announcing a collaborative effort in the upcoming release of their smart jacket.  Surely the days of losing one’s jumper at 0300 am in various establishments may be finally coming to end, solving one of the first world’s most pressing problems. The notion of such everyday items becoming smarter lead me to ask what new smarts are out there that could be applied to project management.

To make it easier and more efficient for project managers to manage projects and not get lost in a sea of complexity and change, I believe there are many new smart ways to improve project management performance. For this short blog, I have picked some of the PMI knowledge areas to see where “smarts” could be applied.

Project Time Management.

A lot of people still use Excel to manager project schedules. MS Project has been around for a long time and could not be considered new, however the new versions of Project Online certainly does bring a lot to the party regarding smarter scheduling. Ms Project online now allows Enterprise resource management (essential in today’s project matrix organisations), Portfolio Optimization, Anytime and Anywhere access via Browsers, Dashboard reporting as well as integration into Skype for Business and enhanced SharePoint integration. One thing having such new tools, I always advise for anybody working on MS Project to also take the MS Project Certification exam to make the best of such tools and to improve your scheduling skills

Project Quality Management

We all know quality is critical to any project. Many folk again still use Excel to record and managed defects. I would strongly advise using either enterprise quality / defect tracking tools such as IBM Rational Rose, MS TFS or perhaps use one of the many cloud based defect tracking tools to ensure you have a systematic process for dealing with defects and issue resolution. One should also consider the use if automated testing tools such as Selenium / Cucumber / Jenkins to save testing cycle time and to ensure consistent tests where appropriated.

Project Communications Management.

In a previous blog on Project Management and the Self-Destructing Project Update, I noted how the impact of the various social media platforms outside of work are beginning to have an influence on communication within the work environment. Many organisations already have begun to use enterprise-grade social media, although these business-focused tools tend to be a little different to the tools that flourish in the wild. For example, Yammer is deployed as a business-focused alternative to Facebook; various Instant Messaging tools such as Skype for Business take the place of WhatsApp and enterprise tools such as SocialCast are found in organisations as a replacement for micro blogging tools such as Twitter. It is certainly worthwhile to consider the communication channels that one can use these days in a project and perhaps cater better for the new generation of project team members.

Project Risk Management

Sometimes it is not a case of using a shiny new tool. We can become smarter too by learning more about how to deal with certain aspects of project management. Most project managers keep risk registers, but they are often static documents or repositories.  Dealing with risk is one of the most important jobs in any project and to this end I would recommend people taking the PMI-RMP certification in order to best equip one’s self to deal with topics such as risk process facilitation, risk monitoring and control as well as specific risk analysis skills. Learning more about how to deal with risk will make you a much more valuable project manager.

There of course many other new tools and techniques out there to help make our projects smarter and thus delivering increased value and the key is to ensure that you are aware of latest industry trends and products and methodologies that might make sure that you don’t feel “lost” at the end of your project and keep an eye out for smart jumpers coming to a Christmas near you.

World Recognised Project Management

If you could have a qualification with the power to open doors for you into multiple industries as diverse as IT to Engineering to Big Pharma and more, in any country across the world where you wish to work, would you let that opportunity pass you by? Neither would we.

 

Not everyone is cut out to be a project manager. It takes a certain level of determination, grit and sheer force of will to oversee and guide a long and complex set of interdependent tasks to completion inside an allocated budget. This is what makes it so fulfilling as a career. Great project managers are detail-oriented, have excellent organisational and perceptive, pragmatic planning skills.
For driven individuals wanting to embark on project management as a career, the time is definitely now. Project management job opportunities are plentiful and the supply never seems to meet the demand. That’s why it’s such a bankable and dependable career choice.

 

However, it is absolutely essential to have a professional – and industry recognisable – credential to your name to secure a lucrative role in Project Management. When it comes to Project Management training; what differentiates Aspira from all the rest is simply this: our training is more than a credential – it is effective, insightful and will give you actual techniques and templates to work with in your project management career. That’s why Aspira’s project management training is such a beneficial device to help enhance your ability to make the transition into project management.

 

Our industry experts have crafted a diverse set of project management course options which cater specifically to the differing needs of those in search of powerful incisive training. Whether you are looking for an introduction to project management essentials or become a recognised Project Management Professional (PMPTM) certified by the PMITM, or are looking to train your staff to be the best Agile Scrummasters on the market, Aspira has precisely what you need in our range of project management training options

 

All of our courses use the latest edition (5th Edition – March 2013)PMBOK® Guide as the core reference. By the end of our courses our trainees leave with a detailed understanding of Project Management terms, concepts and methodologies. Trainees are presented with real world project challenges providing opportunities to exercise their knowledge and skill before completing the course. Aspira project management training results in competent and confident project managers armed with all the skills and abilities required to effectively and methodically manage any project.
To talk to us today about the project management course that best suits your needs, you can contact us on: training@aspira.ie or direct call on: +353 21 235 2550

 

The Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a registered trademark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Enterprise Project Management Systems (EPMS)

In the fast-paced world of project management, there is a plethora of enterprise project management systems (EPMS) and tools available. Enough, in fact, to make any strategist’s head swim. When seeking out the most appropriate EPMS system for your business, you need to really be able to compare and evaluate systems in a like-for-like manner, and see beyond the sales guys’ baffling jargon and obtuse answers. If you have never purchased an EPMS system before, this is made all the more complicated as you don’t know quite what to look for, and what you might need going into the future. The icing on this complex cake is, of course, that apart from determining suitable functionality, you need to be able to estimate and align the costs across all the options available to you, and this is never straightforward if you are navigating the sales process for the first time.

Evaluation of EPMS Systems
This multitude of challenges is why Aspira offers EPMS evaluation and implementation services. Our seasoned industry experts will power past the sales presentations and get into the nitty gritty of what you will need your EPMS system to do. Due to our extensive experience and objective point of view, we can give you an impartial like-for-like comparison of all the leading EPMS tools as part of our EPMS Evaluation service and cover with you:

What licence fee structures are out there.
The pro’s and cons of using a Software as a Service (SaaS) model against purchasing and hosting the hardware yourself.
Functionality included out-of-the-box in all leading EPMS tools.
Functionality that can be easily configured by a system administrator role versus needing an experienced professional or developer to implement.
Functionality that is available at additional cost.
Estimation breakdowns across all your potential EPMS tools.
Alignment and ranking of EPMS tools according to your goals, requirements and budget.
Where optimizations to your business processes may be made due to the functionality of certain EPMS tools.

Implementation of EPMS Systems
Once you have selected the most appropriate EPMS tool for your enterprise needs, Aspira is pleased to be able to offer you our EPMS Implementation service. Our system integration teams are veterans at realizing business vision when it comes to implementing project management systems. Not only can we implement leading tailored project management suites, we have routinely achieved solid EPMS implementation and integration across major ERP platforms – whether it be Oracle, SAP, JD Edwards or Navision – our flexible and dynamic teams can ensure your EPMS becomes an essential part of your project management process.

At Aspira we understand that to deliver successfully for you is not just to get a system up and running, and that the selection of the right implementation partner brings a wealth of benefits such as:

An optimally configured system that meets your current and future functional needs with the least amount of customization, resulting in lower operating and maintenance costs.
A highly utilized system that becomes a deep-rooted and essential tool for your organization. Bad implementations end up being a waste of money as employees create manual processes to compensate for the lack of system flexibility.
A lower Total Cost of Ownership resulting from a highly resilient and accurately scaled architecture and infrastructure delivery.
Integration according to your established IT principles such as using ESB, EAI or SOA integration methods.
Streamlined business processes that can result in time, resource and cost savings.

Aspira understands that businesses need to see real return on investment whether they need an EPMS Evaluation or EPMS Implementation service. We are proud to stand over our abilities to deliver quality implementations that can result in real returns and real cost savings on top of better business processes. We can boost your business to achieve your business vision and bring viable EPMS to bear in your organization.

For more information on Aspira Services, visit our website on https://www.aspira.ie/ or send us a mail today on: info@aspira.ie

Risky Project Management

Project Risk Management is an essential activity often marginalised to the early phase of a project and subsequently neglected as projects develop. This type of risk management is a mere box-ticking exercise by ineffective project managers leading to perplexed project teams, pricey and perpetual delays – even cancelled projects. The irony here of course is the risk posed to the project by poor risk management is high and not easily fixed.

 

Detailed risk management must play an important role over the full lifecycle of any project – risk is not static or finite, nor can all risk be predicted at one time – therefore artefacts such as a Risk Register, Risk Assessment Plans and Risk Management Plans produced as part of the due diligence need to be maintained as living documents for risk to be mitigated.
 

Too often a risk management plan consists only of the identification of risk – as though its identification will automatically negate it happening. Good risk management details and documents all the known risks to a project but great risk management is able to identify the potential ripple effects of those risks if realised, and detail appropriate preventative mitigation plans as well ashighlight further risk which may be incurred out of the mitigation plan itself.

In addition, with the best will in the world, sometimes the risks do realise, and if there is no contingency plan in place, then the project team is left scrambling and the risk management has ultimately failed.

 

Aspira’s expertise at risk management is unparalleled and our approach is not easily replicated.

Our Risk Management Framework considers:

  • Review of risk management policies and procedures and offer solutions to strengthen your risk exposure.
  • Provide in depth risk identification, with full detail of the secondary risks posed.
  • Conduct a detailed risk analysis, identifying potentially impacted business and technological functions and plans.
  • Prioritize risk based on key criteria – financial, customer impacting, business critical – whatever the key criteria for the success of the project is. Aspira’s expertise in project management means our project managers are well equipped to support projects in terms of; prioritisation, to guiding influence, and to accurately estimate effort and budget.
  • Creates risk mitigation plans, addressing how those risks will be treated – how they will be mitigated to prevent them happening, and the plans that needs to fall into place if they do.
  • Identify your impacted stakeholders – this goes far beyond your standard RACI matrix – this outlines your key stakeholders and the impact that risk realisation may have on their interests in your project.

 

If your project requires a solid risk management foundation, an inflight risk assessment or a review of how risks were dealt with, Aspira has the expertise to expedite your risk management plan and limit your exposure.

 

Aspira’s Risk Management has resulted in our clients being able to:

  • Achieve complete business buy-in on the decision for projects to proceed based on complete risk assessment, offering confidence in budget stability.
  • Competently budget for contingencies based on the prioritisation of risk and their likelihood to occur.
  • Allow Project Managers to focus on the day to day project tasks rather than risk mitigation planning.
  • Save time and budget by having plans in place which can be immediately executed if risks do realise.
  • Allow project managers to immediately brief senior execs on the impact of a risk before it has happened.
  • Improve communication and allow for key stakeholders to be identified quickly.
  • Stop work backlogs and resource inefficiencies by concentrating on key high risk areas.
  • Complete projects smoothly engaging whether engaging in risk mitigation or risk treatment plans.

For more information regarding services Aspira provide, you can contact us from the website or send us a direct mail to: info@aspira.ie

The Hare And The Tortoise: A Case For Slow Project Management

For many years now, I have read this book at the behest of my young son (who is a huge fan of the tortoise) and despite numerous attempts on my behalf to change the story /ending on the fly, to add an element of the unexpected, the demand is always there to ensure that tortoise always wins, which of course he/she does every night.

Recently I started to wonder what does this fable offer project management and watching Trump attempting to launch a huge amount of his promised policy decisions in a quick initial burst of activity, the thought came to my mind of the need maybe to adopt an approach that I might term “Slow Project Management” and that maybe by slowing down as a project manager you might actually complete the project faster!

As mentioned in a recent post, the start of a project is the most critical (particularly in terms of requirements and the business analysis role). Taking some time out and slowing down is also just as important to the Project Manager, especially at the start of a project.

One simple way to do this is to treat the project kick-off process with as much care as possible and don’t be afraid to re-run or have a number of phased project kick-off meetings if you are not entirely satisfied with the outcome of the meeting and what you want to get out of it in terms of setting the project up for a good start.

Another effective method that we often use in Aspira as project managers, is running our “Pre-Mortem” workshop in the initiation phase of a project where we imagine the project as a failure and then working backwards to understand how it might have failed and documenting into a RAID or a similar tool that output of that process. This is run separately to kick-off meetings and again, although it does take some extra time, we find the process does help to identify potential future problems and allow mitigations to be planned and hence improve project success.

Taking such time outs along with increased reflection will perhaps protect against the over confidence of the “Hare” project manager and in the long run get you the destination faster.

Good Night, Sleep Tight!

For more information on Services Aspira Provide go to our website at www.aspira.ie. Alternatively, if you have any queries contact Aspira directly by emailing us on info@aspira.ie.

 

Created by:      Jerry Giltenane

Company:         Aspira

Position:          Professional Services Director

The First Nine Minutes

Recently I was listening to an interview with astronaut Chris Hadfield, when he was asked about how he personally coped with the risk of sitting in the shuttle, facing blast off and a stint of 6 months in space. His answer was interesting in that he noted that the vast majority of the risk that he and the mission faced occurred during a typical 6 month mission was in the first 9 minutes! Of course should anything go wrong within those first 9 minutes, then it would have tragic and severe impact both on the astronauts and the mission.

In many respects space travel is the ultimate project, however I would argue that in most earth based projects, that the first “Nine Minutes” may even be a biggest risk to a project.

It is in the early stages of a project that the key tasks of gathering, understanding and approving the requirements to allow the scope of the project to be clearly and correctly defined is undertaken. The big difference though between the first 9 minutes of a shuttle mission and your typical project start phase is that in most cases, mistakes or errors in the initial stage of a project (particularly in requirements) will not become apparent until the end or towards the end of the project and end up being very costly in terms of rework where as in the case of Chris Hadfield, issues become more apparent quickly and dramatically.

One might think that the importance of good requirements management is well known and common sense , but in reality, research shows (no alternative facts here) that the rate of project failure attributed to poor requirements is actually increasing. This PMI Report notes that “inaccurate requirements gathering” as a primary reason for project failures grew from 37% in 2014 from 32% in 2013. This is somewhat surprising, given the rise in the numbers of project managers being certified as well as increased project training and better tools.

It is clear that more emphasis must be put on the requirements phase of a project and indeed the PMI have also recognised this in terms of their new BA certification programs as well as the growth in the importance of the IIBA and their CBAP certification path. Having taken the CBAP certification a few years ago (primarily because I saw at first hand the frustration of incomplete, incorrect and poorly managed requirements), it certainly drove home the importance of work of a BA and the tester, as both these roles are becoming more and more important in today’s more world of more complex projects across more borders, timezones and cultures. Indeed in my view today’s project manager must understand intimately such roles and how they interlock. They must also study and undertake certifications such as the CBAP and indeed testing certifications to ensure that the project does not fail during those vital early stages due to a more mature approach to requirements and test management.

This Article was created by: Jerry Giltenane, Professional Services Director at Aspira.

Opportunity Knocks

If you could have a qualification with the power to open doors for you into multiple industries as diverse as IT to Engineering to Big Pharma and more, in any country across the world where you wish to work, would you let that opportunity pass you by? Neither would we.

Not everyone is cut out to be a Project Manager. It takes a certain level of determination, grit and sheer force of will to oversee and guide a long and complex set of interdependent tasks to completion inside an allocated budget. This is what makes it so fulfilling as a career. Great Project Managers are detail-oriented, have excellent organisational and perceptive, pragmatic planning skills.

For driven individuals wanting to embark on Project Management as a career, the time is definitely now. Project Management job opportunities are plentiful and the supply never seems to meet the demand. That’s why it’s such a bankable and dependable career choice.

However, it is absolutely essential to have a professional – and industry recognisable – credential to your name to be a successful Project Manager. What differentiates Aspira from all the rest is simply this: our training is more than a credential – it is effective, insightful and will give you actual techniques and templates to work with in your project management career. That’s why Aspira’s Project Management training is an indispensable device in the toolbox of any successful Project Manager.

Our industry experts have crafted a diverse set of Project Management course options which cater specifically to the differing needs of those in search of powerful incisive training. Whether you are looking for an introduction to Project Management essentials or become a recognised Project Management Professional (PMPTM) certified by the PMITM, or are looking to train your staff to be the best Agile Scrummasters on the market, Aspira has precisely what you need in our range of project management training options.

All of our courses use the latest edition (5th Edition – March 2013) PMBOK Guide® as the core reference. By the end of our courses our trainees leave with a detailed understanding of Project Management terms, concepts and methodologies. Trainees are presented with real world project challenges providing opportunities to exercise their knowledge and skill before completing the course. Aspira Project Management training results in competent and confident Project Managers armed with all the skills and abilities required to effectively and methodically manage any project.

To talk to us today about the Project Management course that best suits your needs contact us today.

The Rise of Contingent Workforce

Companies are slowly but surely moving to the contingent workforce model – a provisional group of workers who work for an organization on a non-permanent basis. It is necessary for companies in today’s highly competitive environment to ensure that operating costs are as low as possible in order to maintain profitability. The contingent worker model offers great benefits as staff can dip in and out of the company as needed; whether it is an IT consultant, a business analyst, a project manager, a scheduling expert or other IT resource that is only needed on a temporary basis, bringing in a contingent worker to fill a gap reduces redundancy in the resource model. No company wants to pay to retain good staff if there is no work for them at that time. In this way you know you have the right resources available at the right time and leaving the company when their tasks have been completed.

Aspira is a solutions driven company and a leading supplier of experienced, skilled and intelligent IT and Project Management resources. We take a 360° view of all your needs and requirements to ensure that we offer the right candidates to you. Company culture, business process and the nuances of technical and business skills combined in the right individual are what make a successful contract resource. Our rigorous standards for selecting candidates will ensure a great match every time.

Aspira can provide our clients with the highest calibre:

• Programme and Project Managers
• PMO Specialists
• Business and Systems Analysts
• Project Risk Analysts
• Solution and Technical Architects (Software, Middleware and Infrastructure)
• Infrastructure & Networking Specialists
• Database Specialists
• Middleware and Application Developers covering multiple technologies
• ….and many other profiles.

Aspira does more than simply offer individual resources. Our aim is to offer maximum value to our clients by building long standing and mutually beneficial relationships. In this way we can assist our clients in the most effective way by offering our wealth of experience and counsel when selecting candidates that are not only more than able to do the job but who can offer added value in many diverse areas of the project lifecycle. We want our candidates to be able to effectively communicate with all of the different audiences and stakeholders in your business and, while they are specialists in their field, we hope they add extra value on top with additional skills and experience which you can avail of.

Our comprehensive approach ensures that we help you define who you need (if necessary), what technical skills the required individuals must have as well as what soft skills are fundamental to guaranteeing their overall success. We work with our clients to keep track of the performance of our contract resources ensuring you get the best for your investment.

Click here and talk to us today to discuss your resource needs and let us empower you to find the perfect match for your project.

IT Estate by Design

The reality of business means that companies often either begin with less-than-optimal solution and system architectures as they face financial pressures, inherit end-of-life or entirely customised systems through business acquisitions and mergers, or, as often happens, the goals and business model changes as the company grows and the architecture that once enabled is now constraining.

Greenfield sites (such as start-ups and young enterprises) can save considerable time, effort and cost over the long run by investing in Aspira’s Systems Architecture Design Service and implementing the right architecture from the ground up. Brownfield sites (such as businesses with an architectural estate already built) can also benefit by availing of Aspira’s Systems Architecture Design Service when the time comes to implement new or upgrade existing systems, or to plan a parallel architecture and data migration.

“Delivering advanced architectural excellence requires a team of highly experienced and knowledgeable professionals.”

Tangible benefits include a reduction in hardware redundancy, the retirement of appropriate hardware, identification of opportunities to move to cloud or virtual hosting as well as selection of the best fit COTS applications or PAAS (Platform as a service) solutions – all leading to a tighter and more streamlined IT stack.

When it comes to application architecture, the business architecture and the data architecture of an enterprise must be factored in before the application architecture can be successfully completed. Aspira works with clients to develop a target application architecture that realises the business architecture and the architecture vision.

During Aspira’s System Architecture Design Service, we can:
• Develop baseline business, data and application architecture descriptions
• Perform gap analysis
• Define Roadmap components
• Review Application Interoperability
• Apply your or create new Application Principles
• Create or apply your System Governance Model
• Confirm readiness and risk for business transformation
• Formulate Implementation and Migration Strategy
• Identify the Transition Architecture (if required)
• Guide you on Service Level Agreements
• Update your Architecture Vision/Roadmap

Aspira understands that companies today need system architecture that has a low cost of ownership, a fast return on investment, is flexible, modular and with a focus on configuration and not customization (to keep costs down). Not only this but the systems themselves must do more than meet current needs – it must be scaled for growth, performance, changing business requirements and meet company KPIs.

Delivering advanced architectural excellence requires a team of highly experienced and knowledgeable professionals. Aspira’s team of architects have experience across a diverse range of industry sectors including healthcare, human resources, insurance and telecoms. Your entire stack can be optimally designed and delivered using Microsoft and other technologies, depending on your needs.

Whether you have your development teams in-house or outsourced, whether your stack is in your own data centre or you are using SAAS or simply are starting out from scratch, click here and talk to us today about how we can transform or create your IT estate.]

Secret of Scheduling Success

Take advantage of Aspira’s sharp scheduling consultants and get your project firmly established with the very best chance of success.  Our skilled and savvy team will assimilate your project data and investigate your ‘unknowns’ to draw together a realistic and achievable schedule.

Whether your project is large and complex or small and straightforward, our significant expertise in scheduling will ensure you protect your project against delays.

We take the hassle out of scheduling by taking control of its organisation. We conduct insightful workshops and interviews with key project stakeholders, project team members  and subject matter experts. We then feed this data along with critical information such as resource estimates, key dependencies and risks and project milestones to document a detailed project schedule.

Our Scheduling Package delivers:

• A complete and thorough Work Breakdown Structure which itemizes deliverable-oriented components of the project scope which are manageable and achievable in the timeframe allotted.
• A Critical Path which will highlight those key work components whose schedule absolutely must be met in order for the plan to stay on schedule, giving you clear milestones to meet and powerful insight to work with.
• A Key Milestone list, which empowers you to identify the most important deliverables to keep the project on track.
• Resource Estimates which will trim out over-staffing costs but ensure there is peak productivity with sufficient resources
• A RAID matrix: Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies which may all affect the completed plan.
• A Detailed Schedule which incorporates all the project data and allows you to track the target progress easily.

 

Aspira’s Scheduling has resulted in our clients being able to:
• Breakdown complex scope into manageable work components
• Create efficiency across the project ensuring resources are utilised to their max potential
• Protect projects against delay be ensuring key milestones are met.
• Allow Project Managers to see where parallel work items can be inserted into the schedule.
• Plan for resources to have all the assets and inputs they need to start their work components on time.
• Identify possible threats and risks to the project
• View impacts of any necessary change in project timeline or scope.
• Experiment with ‘what if’ scenarios to identify possible workarounds if project issues arise

Lean in and become a ScrumMaster

Most software development teams are either agile or leaning towards agile. Scrum has revolutionised IT and has trended significantly in recent years and qualified ScrumMasters are the new software development accessory.

In today’s highly competitive environment there are increasing demands for rapid release of software iterations with a focus on quality at affordable costs. By embracing the Scrum Agile methodology and mastering the skills of the ScrumMaster you will see both the passion of scrum teams and their increased productivity unleashed within your organisation.

The ScrumMaster is relentlessly focused on leading the development team to success and ensuring their path to delivery of their goals is clear.

Aspira’s world class training will take you to the heart of what being not just a good, but a great ScrumMaster really means. So lean in to our two day ScrumMaster training course and you will learn to:

• Understand the principles of Agile and how to implement the Scrum Agile Method

• Learn how to estimate and create a realistic plan so that project commitments will be      delivered

• Increase your team’s productivity, and balance their workload

• Build up your capability to deliver early prototypes and projects

• Learn how to manage change when implementing Scrum in your organization

Aspira are approved education providers by the Project Management Institute, the International Institute of Business Analysis and Scrum Alliance. This means our Training has been audited by the PMI® and the IIBA® and meets their strict quality requirements. Click here to talk about your Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certification.

Professional ScrumMaster courses – Earlybird price is €750 and includes exam fee

• Cork on 13th & 14th September 2016
• Dublin on 25th & 26th October 2016