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  • Patricia Fernandez Carrelo 9:00 am on July 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , project management, yanomo,   

    Zyncro and Yanomo: Socializing Project Management 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    PartnershipZyncroYanomoLast week, Dutch Project Management Software Specialist Yanomo and the Social Software Provider Zyncro reached an agreement to offer a combined Cloud Solution for time tracking, invoicing and budget management with the social layer given by an Enterprise Social Network, to boost collaboration in any project management process.

    This new integrated solution is targeted at enterprises aiming to allow easier communication, streamline tasks & project management, facilitate teamwork, provide a transparent view of processes and make their employees more productive and efficient.

    Yanomo offers enterprises industrial-strength operations management with a social, user-friendly interface, belying the software’s power. The software allows users to track time, to-do’s, expenses, budgets and project progress, embedded within Zyncro. Zyncro allows enterprises to communicate within safe and closed environments and help organizations to maximize their potential through the use of Social Technology applied to a business ecosystem, resulting in a direct impact on the final results, all this by participating the employees and including their ideas and proposals in the processes.

    All the project knowledge -formal & informal- in a combined solution

    Through the connection between Zyncro and Yanomo all the information related to time tracking, tasks, phases, progress, people involved or reports of a project can be easily shared and enriched in a private, secure and corporate social environment: Zyncro, your Enterprise Social Network. Both solutions can adapt to all customers’ needs through branding personalization, integrations, and mobile applications. Furthermore, Zyncro can be delivered as an on-premise software and private branded, including mobile apps.

    (More …)

     
  • Carlos Gonzalez Jardon 9:00 am on January 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , project management,   

    The Skill Set of a Project Manager (Part 2) 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    In the first part of this article, we talked about the three skill areas a good project manager has to develop. Ultimately, managing a project is an art based in the application of a series of scientific knowledge. The art consists in applying our knowledge, experience and skills in an adequate manner at the right moment, and even though there is no guarantee to the success of the project, it allows us to reduce the risk of failure.

    Thus we must maximize/develop some key skills: 

    • Communication. Clear and effective communication is fundamental for all project managers. Not only is it important to communicate what (the level of detail used and the perspective), but also how (which mediums we are going to use) and when (choose the time when such communication will be made). Additionally, make sure the person on the receiving end has received and understood what you wanted to communicate, whereby the feedback becomes a base element as a means to avoid misunderstanding and incomprehension.
    • Negotiation. With any project there may be mixed and even conflicting expectations, which becomes relevant in negotiation skills as a way of aligning the expectations of the participants with the objectives of the project.
    • Solutions to problems. A project manager must be proactive, anticipating possible problems that may affect the success of the project (risks) and develop plans to minimize or avoid their impact. However, ultimately, if the problem has not been avoided, it must have the capacity to manage such situations efficiently. A project manager should be decisive, able to take responsibility and engage others in the project. (More …)
     
  • Carlos Gonzalez Jardon 9:00 am on January 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , project management,   

    The Skill Set of a Project Manager (Part 1) 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    In the previous article, we focused on emphasizing the importance of the role of Project Managers, and what their main functions are, but what makes a good project manager? Directing/leading a project is something more than just running a set of activities. Instead, it requires having different specific skills such as technician or project specialist that may be needed.

    When it is time to manage/direct a project, the manager should:

    • Plan the work/activities that must be done in order to reach the objectives of the project and accomplish the expectations of the client.
    • Organize all of the elements (resources) that interact throughout the life of a project. This activity will require the project manager to provide a certain level of authority within the organization.
    • Manage the people, whether they are clients, users, project team members, etc… and definitely stakeholders. Projects are done by people and the objectives are not always shared or understood in a correct way.
    • Direct and Lead. Leading is something more than just commanding or giving orders. A good leader forms a part of the team that he/she is leading, and he/she is not an “external agent” who merely establishes goals to achieve and a task to execute. The leader is involved with the team itself.
    • Control/Monitor the project that is developing under the established plan and, if not, define the necessary corrective measures.

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  • Carlos Gonzalez Jardon 9:00 am on November 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , project management,   

    The Importance of a Project Manager 

    Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

    One of the first activities to address at the hour of pulling out a project is to name the project manager. The role of this person is key for he/she will be in charge of coordinating/leading all the aspects related to the project. 

    In many projects, I have been able to see that there is not just one person responsible for making decisions, but the responsibility is diluted between distinct people in charge of different aspects of the project: technology, law, functions, and business.

    Specific managers in specific fields within a project is not bad, but there must always be one particular person wit the capacity to make decisions: to resolve conflicts, to select different options, to coordinate distinct parts of a project, to communicate, etc. It is what is called accountability: a sole person who has the total/essential responsibility of the project.

    Another aspect that calls my attention in many projects is the manager has a marked technical character. This happens a lot in high technology projects where the Project Director is often worried of low level aspects and where project management function is performed by a technician of the team as a reporting activity.

    What is the Project Manager’s function? Does he/she have to dedicate time to technical activities? 

    I rely on PMBok®: “The project director concentrates on the specific objectives of the project“. It must be planned what to do, keep track of how it’s running, make decisions to correct issues, inform stakeholders involved, etc.

    The project manager plays a key role in coordinating all the resources of a project. 

    (More …)

     
  • Carlos Gonzalez Jardon 9:00 am on August 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , project management   

    The importance of communication in project management 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    We already spoke about the benefits of using an Enterprise Social Network in project management. From a project manager, communication is one of the key skills you need to nurture and encourage. Communication represents an important part of our day-to-day and we need to give it the attention it deserves.

    What can we do for our communication?

    • Plan and prepare communication. We can’t leave communication to improvisation. We need to be clear about what we want to transmit, when, how to do it, what medium we will use, and who our interlocutors are. Limit improvisation as much as possible to avoid running the risk of saying what we shouldn’t.
    • Use simple language. This is very important in a highly specialized environment. Often we tend to use a language that we only understand in our scope of work (engineers, etc.). We need to communicate thinking in who receives the message, not who issues it.
    • Get feedback from the recipient. This point strengthens understanding of the message. We need to ensure that our interlocutor has understood what we want to transmit.
    • Establish multiple channels of communication. We need to define what the main lines of communication in our project are, and formalize/control them: reports, enterprise social networks, intranets, etc…
    • Determine the sensitivity of the recipient regarding the information to be transmitted.
    • In face-to-face communication, pay attention to the recipient’s body language. This will give us clues on whether the information is being received correctly.
    • Communicate at the right time, with the right format and means.
    • Strengthen words with actions. Avoid attitudes like “do what I say, not what I do”.
    • Listen actively. We need to listen and understand communication from the point of view of who is speaking.

    Carlos González Jardón (@cgjardon) is Consultant and Trainer in Project Management with more than 18 years’ experience in the IT sector. y Formador en Dirección de Proyectos con más de 18 años de experiencia en el sector TI. He holds a computer engineering degree from the Universidad de Vigo, an Executive Master’s from ICAI/ICADE and PMP certification from the Project Management Institute. He is currently consultant in Project Management at Tecnocom.


     
  • Zyncro Blog 9:00 am on July 25, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , project management,   

    GTD: Your Personal Productivity requires Control and Perspective 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    Editor’s note: At Zyncro we like to help people and organizations to increase their levels of personal productivity. Today we’d like to share with you an adaptation of this post by Miguel Bolívar on our Spanish blog.

    What marks the difference between people who are fairly unproductive and those that are highly productive? The difference lies in a process, actions that change the way you focus your attention.

    Some symptoms that you need greater levels of control and perspective are:

    – You’d like to reduce your stress levels
    – You get distracted more than seems normal
    – You lack the balance between different areas of your life
    – You miss having a higher level of energy and motivation
    – You feel you are not taking advantage of your entire potential
    – You seek greater clarity
    – You would like to manage your projects better, use time better and look after your relationship with other people
    – You want more freedom

    The requirements for achieving any of the previous results are simple: you need organization and focus. Their order doesn’t matter.

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  • Joan Alvares 9:00 am on May 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , project management,   

    Liquid teams for liquid times 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    There’s one question that is usually repeated when you get up to present your company: How many of you are there? At times I say there are three of us, others that there are thirty odd, according to the need to be impressed I see in my interlocutor. And in both cases, I’m telling the truth, because at Poko we work with a basic core of project managers and a liquid team that adapts according to each project.

    I’m one of those who thinks that to do something that makes sense, a team needs to be adapted to the project, not the opposite. Because when a company refuses to leave its comfort zone, when it doesn’t feel the need to involve external talent and explore beyond its own knowledge, normally it’s because it is doing something that already exists, more or less prescindible, that expires, easily Chinesed.

    Today the best restaurants in the world are just that because they had brought cusine closer to fields as diverse as art, science or industrial design; to do that they needed to involve the best professionals in these fields. A talent that a fixed structure surely could not have paid, and that would not make sense having permanently in a kitchen. Tomorrow’s project will be different to today’s, and it will force us to find collaboration with different professionals

    In a constantly changing world, the Internet enables us to build big companies without the need to be big structures. The idea is to create talent ecosystems, capable of detecting challenges in a project and capturing the best specialist to respond. The Internet invites us to discovery, disintermediation, cooperation among professionals with different talents that work in different parts of the world. It’s up to us to accept that invitation.

    In your organization, do you also use collaboration networks for different projects? When you collaborate with disperse team, you need great communication to ensure everything works like clockwork. How about using an Enterprise Social Network for this? Try Zyncro!

    Joan Alvares is founding partner of Poko and lecturer at the Istituto Europeo di Design

     

     
  • Carlos Gonzalez Jardon 9:00 am on May 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , project management,   

    Enterprise Social Networks and Project Management 

    Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

    Editor’s note: Today we would like to welcome a new author to our blog. The clarity of his first post has surprised us, and that has made us even more delighted about him joining our group of contributors. Carlos González Jardón (@cgjardon) is consultant and trainer in project management. With more than 18 years’ experience in the IT sector, his activities revolve around IT project management and quality standards such as CMMi. He holds a computer engineering degree from the Universidad de Vigo, an Executive Master’s from ICAI/ICADE and PMP certification from the Project Management Institute. He is currently consultant in Project Management at Tecnocom. Welcome and thanks!

    We live in a society where access to information is no longer the privilege of a few and has been democratized. Nowdays, in a single click, we can access a wide range of data from multiple sources: search engines, online newspapers, blogs, social networks… The technology revolution is causing a social and professional evolution, in how we relate to our environment. Information continues to be important, but how we access/acquire that information is gaining relevance.

    In this environment, an enterprise social network can become a vital tool that enables us to strengthen some key aspects in our work:

    • Speed. Quick decision-making.
    • Reliability. Quality of the data.
    • Collaboration: Share information.
    • Acccessibility: A single data source, multiple devices to access it.

    The subject is rather extensive, but we will look briefly at how an enterprise social network can help us in executing projects.

    Projects and Enterprise Social Networks

    In project management, communication is a critical factor. But what do we understand communication to be in a project?

    According to the PMBok® Guide (project management knowledge base), one of the leading references for any project leader, managing communication involves all processes required to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, distribution, storage, retrieval and ultimate disposition of project information.

    In other words, the project manager needs to ensure that all project stakeholders have or have access to, at the right moment, the information required using suitable and efficient means. This is extremely relevant as poor management of communication and information in a project could cause the time that the project manager devotes to communicate, distribute, share and access the information to sky-rocket, and even bring the project to the brink of disaster.

    In order for the project manager to have the right information at each stage, they need to interact with their team, the customers, suppliers, and the ‘closer’ they are to the task being done, the better the information. Basically, the project manager needs to beSOCIAL with all those stakeholders in the project. It is not enough to have social skills based on ‘face-to-face’ interaction. We need to seek support from the tools that enable us to manage online or virtually multi-disciplinary and multi-site teams.

    In this scenario, an enterprise social network can play a differential role. If we share aspects of our daily lives, why shouldn’t members of a project team share, through an enterprise social network, their problems, doubts, concerns regarding the activities being performed in the project? This activity is already being done in the corridors, on the phone, but it is difficult to have a document support with the conclusions reached. Using collaborative tools can help to flourish and document information that would be lost otherwise. In those project-focused organizations, an enterprise social network can provide major value by sharing and accessing data easily and quickly.

    Benefits of Enterprise Social Networks in Project Management

    Although I’m sure there are many more, these are some of the benefits they can provide:

    Quick access to one of the best sources of knowledge: the team’s experience.

    The senior profiles are an excellent source of knowledge and that knowledge can be used to resolve different situations that we face daily in a project. Coaching, mentoring, tutoring, training or resolving of doubts can be done dynamically through an enterprise social network.

    Repository of project information and documents.

    Although this point has already been solved by many other tools, an enterprise social network can be the main point of access to shared resources. It means converting the current static or one-directional intranet (always focused from the company to the employee) into a social and collaborative environment ‘company-employee’ and ‘employee-employee’ (beyond a simple question-response network).

    Reduce “meetingitis”.

    In many organizations, there are too many inefficient meetings. Often we finish the day with the feeling that we haven’t done anything “productive”. Simple meetings to exchange information and update everyone can be replaced by short virtual meetings (e-meetings): for example, the status of our project, clarification of doubts, etc. These e-meetings will not replace face-to-face meetings, rather they will complement them and reduce them to the essential ones, as the cost, both economically speaking and cost-opportunity (what I don’t get done) is very high.

    Simplify management in multi-site environments.

    In environments where the team is located at different sites in the company or in the client (or even in teleworking situations), the social network will help us enormously with that task of “sharing”, reducing, or even eliminating problems resulting from not all being in the one place.

    Neglected management.

    On many occasions, we experience many short interruptions that break our usual work rate. Enterprise Social Networks mean that those short interruptions can be channelled through it to be answered at a later stage; or even they could be resolved by other members of the team collaboratively, leaving evidence of their resolution in the “social environment” itself.

    Our value lies not in what we know, rather how quickly we can “update” (learn what we don’t know, acquire knowledge) and how we share it with our co-workers.

    In this scenario, an enterprise social network can become a perfect work environment where different stakeholders in our project can interact according to their role, regardless of their physical location and time zone.

    The work environment is a clearly social activity in most cases, so why not use enterprise social networks? This way sharing knowledge among the project team can be more agile, although to achieve it, a cultural change is required in organizations.

     

     
  • Chris Preston 9:00 am on April 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , project management, ,   

    Losing Meaning Amongst Complexity 

    Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

    I’ve recently been reading Dan Ariely’s latest book – The Upside of Irrationality. For those of you who don’t know him, he’s a frequent writer and speaker on the subject of human behavior, with a particular emphasis on why we do things that make no practical sense. In this book, he shares research into how we find meaning in what we do, and the consequences of not having it in our working lives. It’s fascinating stuff, and I could read his work all day.

    He makes a key point about the need for us to see the outcomes of our work successfully launched into the world, and that it’s the role of leaders to make sure people can join the dots between what they are doing, with the ultimate outcome of the organisation. In the book, he uses SAP as an example of where complexity is clouding this process – I don’t believe he’s saying SAP is a bad system; it’s just one of many, many tools that we now use for our daily lives… probably one too many.

    How bad is the problem he’s describing? Well, for example, in 2008 I was working with a police force that had just audited its systems – they had upwards of 350 different ones. That was four years ago – I dread to think how many they have now. Officers at the time were frustrated and disheartened with the situation, feeling that it took them away from the core of the job: to police.

    This situation is echoed in the pharmaceutical industry, one of the most heavily regulated groups you will ever find. With multi-billion dollar fines levied for illegal activity, the companies involved have layer upon layer of systems to prevent any, tiny, slippage of the ‘code’. This compliance is aimed to benefit the patient, but it has the hugely negative effect of creating a group of dispirited people who genuinely want to make people’s lives better, but feel the myriad of steps in the process simply don’t allow it. I’ve been part of trying to make the many systems more understandable, which is a Sisyphean task I would not wish on anyone.

    Thinking this over, one phrase came to mind, written by the equally fascinating author John Maeda, who, when talking about simplicity, uses this powerful equation “How simple can you make it / How complex does it have to be?” I love this statement, and I turned to it recently when working on an online profiling tool, which I was happily heaping with features that I thought would be wonderful. The final product would have needed days of patient explanation before anyone understood it, and a manual the size of a phone book. Applying John’s rule, I chopped out most of the things I’d added, and it worked just fine.

    But with my system, I had total control. With the police and pharmaceutical industry control is far from perfect, and the ‘clear lake’ slowly silts up as many contributors independently bring in their own needs. Organizations over a certain size lose clarity around complexity – no one has the reach or remit to ask the question ‘are we too complex?’ when it comes to systems and process. Many companies simplify their products, operations and footprint, but few ever truly simplify how they do business. As one police officer put it to me, “we are good at adding, but not taking away process.” Systems seem to disappear only when technology takes a step forward.

    There’s no doubt that the proliferation of systems is damaging our ability to find meaning in what we do, research, common sense and performance figures all bear witness to this fact. I’m not suggesting that we stack them up and burn them – we’re past that point. What I do feel is needed is local ownership of this challenge. It’s the job of the manager to ensure that people working in complex environments can see how their contribution adds to the organization’s ability to deliver services, goods or outcomes. No one wants a meaningless task, but the danger today is that the processes we’ve built up around the daily job make it difficult to see past the task of administration.

    Leaders and managers need to become practiced at holding conversations about the organization’s aims, what’s coming off the assembly line, and who they are helping. They need to recognize that people are blinkered by the systems they have to use, and need encouragement, support and time to step out of this and look at the wider picture.

    None of this is difficult, it’s about time and effort on the part of the people that really need their teams to perform well.

    And, if you have the capability, maybe also extinguish the odd system here and there – start a quiet revolution around simplifying working life. One of John’s governing laws is “Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.” So, if it’s a law, you’ve got to do it.

    Chris Preston (@Trimprop) is a Psychology graduate and specializes in internal communication and team development. He currently is Director at The Culture Builders.

     

     
    • David Zinger 10:58 pm on April 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Well said Chris. I like the way you put Johm Maeda and Dan Ariely together. I have been thinking about this a lot in relationship to employee engagement and this was a very nice personal booster.

    • Chris Preston 10:13 am on April 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks David – they are two lovely authors, and I really wish that business could do more with John Maeda’s work – I think the challenge is it’s not as easy to link his thinking with business process as it is with product design. Glad it helped boost you!

  • Jose Miguel Torres 9:00 am on February 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: meetings, , project management,   

    Meetingitis: the illness of the 21st century 

    Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

    Editor’s note: Today we would like to welcome a new author: José Miguel Torres works as a software engineer for Xamarin Inc. and specializes in mobile app development. With more than 14 years’ experience, he is a regular author for more than 10 years in technical journals where he has published numerous articles on Microsoft technology and is author of two books. He has been recognized as Microsoft Most Value Professional on four occasions. He maintains the web devoted to development for mobile devices desarrolloMobile.NET. Welcome, José Miguel! :)

    An effective meeting is short, productive, and doesn't have to be face-to-face.Have you ever asked yourself what are meetings for? Well, most times, for nothing. It’s simply a pretext of the “organizer”, almost always represented by the boss or area manager, and doesn’t do anything but embellish the lack of leadership.

    Apparently the official notification sent by email for a specific time on a given day is the solution, as it seems that face-to-face meetings around a round table packed with people with subjective conclusions is the most effective way to solve problems.

    Current context

    Let’s look at it from another point of view. I daily attend a place called “the office” where the company tries, in most cases, to make it so that work is a pleasant and productive place to be. However, it would be more pleasant if I didn’t have to invest more than two hours each day in going to and from it to attend meetings when in most cases, things could be solved quicker and better by digital means. And it would be more productive if they let us work.

    Yes, you understood me, let us work, and I define work as being the action of performing one or several tasks in a structured and continuous manner, i.e. without distractions. And no, when I say distractions I don’t mean reading the sports results or updating your Twitter account with your thoughts, all that is the cigarette break of the 21st century, or perhaps it is worse to tweet than smoke? For some companies it is, and they are not Chinese companies.

    However, they don’t hesitate when calling a meeting for 10 people when the cause and the effect in all meetings are always the same.

    The Cause: They call us to a meeting due to a lack of coordination or communication with a client or department, and the organizer wants to exert their authority by investing 10 hours of the employees in the company. Yes, 10 people during 1 hour in basic arithmetic is 10 hours, and it means cutting short the tasks that each and every one of them were working on, as the meeting is urgent, like they always are.

    The Effects: The meeting has gone on until 3 in the afternoon, some of the attendees haven’t had time even for breakfast, many of them –me included– already say yes to anything and everything just to get out of the meeting room. The Cause continues to be the same, but more Causes that provoke the original Cause have been detected. Obviously, the Boss exerts his authority once again and calls as many meetings as new causes that have been detected. The problem or the cause has not been resolved, but the boss is on it. Now we are really worried.

    We’re in a new era, aren’t we?

    I understand that there are reasons in which we must solve or coordinate a situation that requires the collaboration of two or more people, but nobody is able to justify to me why a (mandatory) face-to-face meeting is better than an email, nor why my attendance during 3 hours is required, if my intervention can be summed up in 15 minutes, nor why I can’t participate using Social Communication tools, or even, if the situation requires it, for a conference call, nor what the numerous doodles on our notebooks or on the meeting room whiteboard are actually for. Couldn’t they be digitalized and shared on a digital collaborative platform?

    Leveraging digital platforms in companies helps to improve and optimize internal communications, reduces infrastructure costs considerably, and improves the information flow to and from the company, among its employees and with suppliers and customers. Flexi-time and telecommuting are a reality today that any company can put into practice with platforms like Zyncro. Strict working hours, forced interruptions, and unending work meetings are a thing of the past.

    Is your company suffering from meetingitis? Dont you think it’s time to take some digital medication to cure it?

     

     
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