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Ideas, suggestions and general thoughts about project management for development.

Why you should use a standard methodology for managing your projects?

A Methodology for Project Management is a strategy that increases the chances for project success; by giving a clear direction it saves time and improves the quality of the deliverables. Most development project managers use a type of methodology that was either learned by years of experience or is part of the organization’s policies and methods for project management. A common benefit of a methodology is that that it helps manage projects by reducing risks which improves the chances of success of a project.


 
What is a Methodology?
A methodology is "a set of methods, processes and practices that are repeatedly carried out to deliver projects". The key element is that by repeating the same actions on every project the organization will gain efficiencies in its approach.
 
What is a Standard?
A standard is defined as "a collection of knowledge areas that are generally accepted as best practice in the industry". Standards give guidance, whereas methodologies provide practical processes for managing projects. Standards are not methodologies, and vice versa. The two most popular standards used in project management worldwide are the PMBOK® (from the Project management Institute) and Prince2® (an UK standard)

What are the components of a methodology?
A project methodology should contain:

  • A set of processes to manage projects.
  • A set of competencies to build the required skills.
  • A set of tools forms and templates to standardize information.

Why use a Methodology?
A methodology is not a magic wand that can be used to solve every problem in a project, but it helps by the use of a clear set of processes for managing projects that everyone in the organization understands. A good methodology that is fit to the context and environment where an organization works is able to provide a clear guidance of the what, who, when and how a project should be done.  A methodology also provide a level of flexibility that ca be adapted to the special conditions of every project. For instance, for smaller projects, the organization can choose to apply a light version of the management processes. And when managing large projects, it can apply the full processes required to monitor every element of the project in enough detail to reduce risks. Organizations that can manage every project in the same way will be able to gain efficiencies; project staff will be able to work smarter and reduce waste. A methodology gives every project team a clear understanding of what is expect from them which in turn increases the chances of success.

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Improve your management skills with these seven communication Tips

One of the biggest factors for low performance of project managers is poor communication skills. Project managers are too often are promoted for their technical accomplishments, without any assessment of their communication skills. If the project manager is not a good communicator, then he or she shouldn’t be a project manager. Otherwise, the organization increases the risks to the project and increases the work that senior supervisors need to do in order fill in for this gap. Essentially, communication means transferring ideas, but communication is more than speaking, the spoken words are only 7% of communication and that body language, facial expressions, tonality, and style constitute the rest of the 93%. To be a good communicator is not difficult but requires practice and good coaching, here are some basic tips that will help any project manager improve these skills:

 

1. Listen, listen, and listen. Spend time to learn to listen, hear what your staff and stakeholders are saying before sending any communications, listening will give opportunities for clues about what the intended audience is prepared to hear from the project. Communication is a two-way street, so it is important to listen carefully when the team members, beneficiaries or other key stakeholders are speaking

2. Ask questions and ask for questions –When hearing something that it is not clear then people should ask about it. It is important that everyone understands exactly the message.. Equally important is to let a team member asks questions to clarify a point and it should be answered in a timely manner. The team member may be bringing up a crucial detail that could make or break the project’s plans.

3. Don’t delay key messages. Make the effort to ensure that those who should know about any project changes know about it as soon as possible. Not sending the communication to the right people at the right time may result in work may not get done; or worst, work done in an area that has been cancelled.

4. Be consistent on your key messages. Nothing confuses more than sending inconsistent messages about the project. If one communication tells a message that the project is on track but another tells there are delays, the project manager will be seen as not having a clue on what is going on and that deteriorates the image of the project. Revise the communication for inconsistencies before sending the to their intended audiences

5. Know your audience.It is a great mistake to assume that one message can fit all the project audiences. The project lives in an environment that is made up of people from different backgrounds and levels of understanding about the project. Even cultural differences call for a need to customize the communication. Make an effort to communicate by expressing the message from the point of view of the audience.6. Make the message simple, concise and to the point. Nothing breaks downs communications than sending long and complex messages. Long speeches or long documents filled with information that is not relevant will cause the audience to lose its focus and concentration on the message. Make sure that your message is easy to read, calls for action or informs without using a lot of explanations.

7. Pay attention to nonverbal communications. As much as 93 percent of the meaning transmitted between two people in face-to-face communication is nonverbal. Nonverbal communications include gestures, body language, facial expressions and eye contact. Project managers need to take in account their nonverbal cues when communication verbally, ensuring a good posture, good eye contact and the right tone of voice is used that do not contradict the words that are being spoken.

Remember, one of the best things you can do to improve your communication skills is to learn to really listen; to pay attention and let the other person talk without interrupting. It may seem difficult at the beginning and will require hard work to keep the concentration, but you might be amazed at the end result.

 
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