Without sports, project management would be hard!


Let ’ s face it : project management concepts can be boring. To make things more matter to, this newspaper weaves in sports analogies to help deliver some key best practices for all stick out managers to follow and demand from their visualize management offices. Using these simple sports analogies helps deliver the key concepts and best practices that I ’ ve acquired over my twenty-five years of working in project management and undertaking management offices .
You don ’ t have to be a sports fan to benefit from this paper—the sports concepts used to present my best practices are basic adequate for everyone to understand and enjoy. The aim of using sports is to help you relate to the best practices presented in order to implement them in your organization .
The best practices presented are : being flexible and situational, use of subjugate topic experts ( SMEs ), keeping things elementary and functional, focusing on customer service and continuous improvement, and are presented in sections relating to the sports concepts of focusing on the team, guiding the team, the rules of the game, the grounds crowd and, most importantly, the project coach as the quarterback .


Having started up a project management office in one big ship’s company, working in others, and creating a global project management position Center of Excellence for so far others, I ’ ve seen my parcel of methodologies and processes. This composition will cover some of the best practices I ’ ve gathered over the years, with a singular flex toward sports. Sports ? What do sports have to do with project management, you might ask. Well, quite a bit as you ’ ll experience, because, without sports, where would we be ? Consider the pursue :

Without baseball… ”K” would just be another letter!
Without football… nothing to look forward to in September!
Without basketball… UCONN men wouldn’t be scary…. .UCONN women wouldn’t be scarier! (Yes, I’m from Connecticut)
Without hockey… there’d be no clean hits!
And without SPORTS…. project management would be hard!

Focus on the Team

Let ’ s beginning with the core of most sports : the team. On most projects, as in team sports, a well-functioning team is essential to achiever. It all starts with gain roles and responsibilities, which is where many organizations get some basic concepts confused. A role is not the like as a problem or position. Roles are filled by staff members with specific expertness, and often the same person fills multiple roles on a project team. For exercise, a undertaking coach with good analytic skills may serve the function of business analyst, just as a business analyst with good organizational skills may serve the function of project coach on a small stick out. Of course, larger more building complex projects still need a PMI-certified undertaking director in the character !
Understanding the responsibilities of each function on the team allows the stick out director to ensure the right field resources are filling the right roles. Defining the effect responsibilities for each function helps create a get down point for the team to work with, which brings me to the first key plan management function best drill : flexibility. It ’ sulfur rare that a project team uses criterion definitions of roles and responsibilities and applies them as is on a plan. In some industries, such as construction and fabrication, where projects are reasonably standard and repeatable, this is possible, but in most major corporations, and particularly on IT software development projects, flexibility is the key .
You ’ ll read about this key concept of flexibility in other areas of this paper. Another way to think about it is to be situational —you need to be able to adapt and modify, when needed, to fit the character of project, the manner of team, and the culture of the constitution. This includes the way you run the project, in terms of communications, meetings, project plan details, along with the project management function standards, processes, methodology, and templates, unless they are specifically required .
Defining who is doing what, who is responsible for what, and getting agreement from the team astir movement are the first gear steps in setting up a successful team. The project director then needs to become the leader to help the team through the imprint, storming, norming, and performing stages ( 1965, Tuckman ). early on in the visualize, try to set up informal team build events or an offsite gain ; attending an event together, and evening something vitamin a simple as a team lunch can help build relationships. It ’ sulfur critical to do this early on in the project ’ s animation cycle, because it will be equitable a topic of time before the team needs to pull together and get through the inevitable “ crunch time. ”

Guiding the Team

In every sports team, there ’ s a group of other people involved in helping the team do whatever game they ’ rhenium play. There are coaches, league officials, umpires, and others who may be involved—some directing the overall league and agenda, some ensuring each game is by rights played .

The Coach

The coach analogy brings up my second plan management position best practice, identifying mho ubject matter experts ( SMEs ) to help project managers and teams. The project managers ’ skill set is extensive ; consider A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) cognition areas as a begin luff. You need to be good at integration, defining and controlling scope, wield prison term, estimating monetary value, ensuring quality, leading people, delivering communications, defining risks, and understand procurement. Most stick out managers have expertness in at least one area : communications, facilitation, work dislocation structure universe, and sol forth. Identify your experts in the project management position or senior project managers with certain expertness in the administration. Using them as coaches to other teams will not entirely help the project teams, but give the coaches a level of atonement when assisting other teams .

The League Officials

The “ league officials ” who coordinate the stallion operation are the aged managers who oversee the project portfolio and resources. Depending on the project management agency structure in your organization, it can be acting as an enterprise project management agency or you may have occupation unit of measurement project management offices that focus on a particular line of business. In any case, these managers work with the business and customers to identify and prioritize the oeuvre for the teams to execute and normally govern the portfolio of projects.

The Umpire

possibly the least liked name in sports, the referee, is besides possibly the most important. Consider how a game would be played without an unprejudiced player to oversee and help ensure the proper consequence. The umpires in the project management universe provide the administration necessary to ensure the project team is set up properly and heading toward success. typically acting on behalf of a plan management office, and alike to the coach model, the “ umpires ” (or governators, as we call them!) can be staff in the undertaking management office or senior project managers who oversee their peers. The position and approach path to administration are the keys. Umpires should work more like a good little league arbiter : providing aid to the players and teams by explaining what they did incorrectly and how to handle exchangeable situations in the future, rather than merely telling them what they did improper. In other words, they need to consult and advise, preferably than fair call fouls and penalties. Some focus areas that can assist with this include :

  • Project management – ensures quality of the project charter or plan deliverable, not just completion
  • Portfolio management – corrects reporting structure, proper approvals, and so forth.
  • Finance – proper funding categories, budget, change control, estimates/baseline v. Estimate at Completion, etc.
  • Resource management – resource needs (roles or specific individuals) defined for all project stages, with focus on detailed resource needs (6-week view)

Rules of the Game

One of the least understood but critical part of any sport are the rules of the game. For project teams, like teams in any fun, the rules must be well known, easy to understand and use, and help the team be successful. The “rules of the game” from the project management position include the processes, methodologies, and templates that support the project teams. One of my favored activities when working in diverse plan management offices was to challenge the methodologists and the quantity of procedure documentation. This is where my third gear plan management position best rehearse comes in : keep it simple and make it usable. The “rules” should be about providing guidance and patronize to get you where you ’ re going, which shouldn ’ triiodothyronine be hard. Above all, serve potency shouldn ’ t be measured in pounds ! I rightfully believe that some of the consult firms that brought their methodologies to the companies I worked in, were paid in pounds of wallpaper. My personal goal is to always make it easier for the stick out director to do his or her job ; he or she should be out working with and communicating with his or her teams and customers, not behind his or her desk and calculator reading documentation and filling out templates. My set up of rules includes approaches to process guides, drug user aids, templates, and reference materials .

Process Guides

Process guides should recognize the different eruditeness styles of humans : some of us are textual, some graphic ; I ’ five hundred quite expect at a function than read turn by turn instructions ; others need the text to know where they ’ ra doing. Producing summons guides provides both a text compendious of the process you ’ ra document and a graphic that depicts the serve ( Exhibit 1 ). future, recognize that most organizations have visualize managers with a wide rate of know ; some entirely need basic information to get started—where the plan oscilloscope should get documented—others need more steering to capture the components of the oscilloscope instruction. Start your process guides at a eminent grade and allow the drug user to add more details when needed .
Process Guide Overview
display 1 – Process Guide Overview

User Aids

It is human nature to realize that very few people look at software documentation after they foremost read it ( if that even happens ! ), and just as few will entree help functions ( When was the last time you hit F1 for help ? ). This is where a simple exploiter care can help stick out managers and teams. User aids can be developed to support your tools, march, or roles—keep them comfortable to read and limit them to one page ( or double sided, if needed ). I typically produce these aids on intemperate card stock paper so team members can carry them in their portfolios or manipulation as “cube wallpaper”; they will get much more use than any process manual ever written .
For example, one user aid I created helps teams by summarizing the scope-requirements-design steps into a one-page reference that business users and customers not familiar with the projects can relate to ( Exhibit 2 ). I use this drug user aid, along with others, to focus on roles and responsibilities and habit of our portfolio management tool, as the core exploiter aids for all project managers and teams .
Scope-Requirements-Design Steps User Aid
exhibit 2 : Scope-Requirements-Design Steps User Aid


Templates are another share of the rules and offer a enormous area of opportunity for an effective project management agency. Templates should be designed to help the project team, not make it harder to get their work done. Some of my stick out management position best practices concepts will help get buy-in to using your templates, namely, making them utilitarian, compromising, and non-redundant. simple things like having a standard pedestrian on the templates with the file appoint, deliver and mark dates, and page numbers will help the users know what they ’ ra reading, where it can be found, and what version they ’ rhenium looking at .
Keeping the tractability concept ( my first project management office best practice ) in mind when dealing with template function is critical. Because each project is potentially different, with different approaches and deliverables, templates should have clear up required and optional sections and besides let teams to combine documents when it makes smell. For exemplify, if the team knows the basic commercial enterprise requirements of the project during universe of the project rent or plan, then there ’ s no motivation for a separate business requirements document. Within the document, include sections for each possible area of information needs to consider, but make sure the teams know they can be deleted or combined .

Grounds Crew

My adjacent plan management position best drill is taken from many successful companies, but rarely seen in visualize management offices ; that is, operating in a customer service model. Providing serve to your customers or plan teams is analogous to the grounds crew seen at major sporting events. The grounds crew in sports, as in a project management office, exercise to “ prepare the field ” and provide subscribe to the teams in order for them to have a successful plot. Whenever possible, the project management agency should assist the undertaking director and project team ampere well ; setting up project information in the track tool and creating a document depository for the team to use are precisely a couple of examples of how a project management agency can provide customer service. The project management function staff is normally the beginning to get project request information and can besides assist with pre-populating information related to the request for the staff evaluating the request and the eventual stick out director .
The grounds crew can besides assist in other areas to support their customers. The project management office is normally responsible for setting up and maintaining the user information in the project portfolio management ( PPM ) joyride. When new resources come into the organization, they can be set up in the tools and introduced as the new resources to the tools and processes they need to follow. The grounds crew can besides assist the resource managers with managing the sign or confer resources ; making certain the managers know when their resources might need to be renewed, when their leverage orders are running out of money, and ensuring their timesheets are reviewed and approved. A final key function the project management agency can provide is ensuring that the grounds crew supports collecting and sharing lessons learned on projects that are completing major phases or closing out the undertaking .

The Quarterback

The undertaking coach serves as the concluding sports analogy : the team ’ s quarterback. undertaking managers need to prepare for the “ game, ” making indisputable they know their “ opponent. ” They need to work with their team in leading it to victory—not being a coach on the sidelines, but using the coaches when necessary. Like a quarterback in the NFL, project managers need to “ manage the clock,” making sure they keep the schedule and prey in mind and taking a timeout when needed. Above all, by utilizing proper hazard management principles, project managers need to “ anticipate the hits” to avoid taking a major loss.

The project management position should help corroborate and develop the stick out managers, bringing them together to share lessons learned, best practices, and identify potential coaches. As the Hall of Fame quarterback, Dan Marino, once said : “Sure, home field is an advantage, but so is having a lot of talent ” ( Marino, neodymium, ¶3 ) Develop your talent ( your project managers ) and your projects will be more successful !


My final undertaking management office best practice ties into a basic continuous process improvement concept : you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Getting the voice of the customer is critical in procedure improvement, and the project management office should constantly be trying to improve and increase its value to the organization. They need to relate to their customers and/or users, involve them in decision make, and communicate with them often .
A simple, periodic customer view is a valuable creature, which I have found captures the voice of the customer and helps measure the potency of the project management office by quantifying its value and defining areas of improvement. Use this survey to find out what ’ s working, what needs improvement, and collect any ideas or volunteers to help out. Make certain you communicate back to the survey participants with a summary of what you collected and what you plan to do about it. Keeping the survey questions similar from year to class will help measure the potency of changes made during the class. Remember : you can ’ t improve what you don’t measurement !

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