You’re Finally A Project Manager! Now What? Transitioning Into the Role of Project Leader

What kid doesn’t dream of being a project manager when they grow up? Well, guess what? You’re a go-getter who doesn’t let your dreams be dreams, and you finally got your big break. But now… how to lead a project?

Recently, Kolme Group joined forces with PM Happy Hour and PMI Phoenix to present a brand new webinar, “You’re Finally A Project Manager! Now What? Transitioning Into the Role of Project Leader”

Catch the replay below!

Starting Your PM Journey – How to Lead a Project

You read your PMBOK every night, and you know how to manage your project. Now, it’s time to learn how to lead your project, and lead your team effectively.

How do you transition from individual contributor to being a leader among you peers? How do you convince your team to listen to a shiny new project manager, and how to get sponsors and stakeholders to trust that you’ll deliver?

Whether you’re a project manager with no experience, you’re just getting your feet under you as a project management consultant, or just want a quick “how to be a project manager for dummies,” your hosts have tried and true advice and techniques. And if you’re a seasoned and successful project management professional you should be mentoring and coaching, so really, this one is for everybody!

You’ll come away from this webinar with advice and specific techniques to:

  • Manage the transition from being an individual contributor on a team to leading a team
  • Gain buy-in and support from a new project team
  • Build trust with key stakeholders and sponsors

Watch Now!

Meet The Experts:

Kim Essendrup

  • Project Management Trainer and Coach​
  • PPM Selection and Implementation Expert​
  • Over 20 years of experience managing projects, programs, and PMOs. Founding Partner at Kolme Group​
  • Co-host of the Project Management Happy Hour Podcast​
  • Author, “Old Pappy’s Rules of Success”

Kate Anderson

  • Cross Functional Facilitator, inspiring others to join the effort​
  • Technology Leadership Program member at PayPal​
  • Co-host of the Project Management Happy Hour Podcast

Kornelia Homewood

  • PPM Consultant at Kolme Group
  • PMP, PSM, PCCP, MSPM
  • Passionate about Project Management

We’re Here To Help

Contact Kolme Group to find out more about our Project and Change Management Services or email us at PPManswers@KolmeGroup.com.

Be sure to follow us on TwitterLinkedIn and YouTube  and use #KolmeGroup on shared posts!

A Deeper Understanding Of PMI’s New Agile Hybrid Project Pro Micro-Credential

In what may be a nod to the reality that there may be no pure “waterfall” or “agile” in the world, PMI recently released a new “micro-credential” for Agile Hybrid Project Pro. It looked intriguing, so I dedicated an afternoon to going through the course and exam to see what it was about and if it is worth the investment.

PMI’s Changing Training Strategy

For those not familiar, PMI has totally changed up its certification game, doing away with its previous Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) program last year and replacing it with its Authorized Training Provider (A.T.P.) program. There are a number of differences, but the key one is that the new program pulls back ownership of PMP prep material to PMI, rather than leaving it to the providers to develop.

When I spoke with PMI about the program change, they shared that they received feedback from the community that some of the PMP prep content wasn’t doing a good job of preparing PMP applicants. I can see their point – I’ve reviewed content developed by multiple providers, and I’ve been through countless banks of test questions and totally agree that they are not consistent. So, PMI decided that all PMP prep courses should be delivered using content they (PMI) developed. This plan is good for consistency – and also good for PMI’s top-line revenue which makes for a healthy PMI. As a training provider, I have to say it is also nice to not have to try to build that training content myself and keep up with PMBOK updates, or buy it from a third party.

Micro-Credentials

In line with developing and marketing more of its own training content, PMI is launching a new line of micro-credentials with an aim to “certify achievements in specific skills, knowledge, and competencies by focusing on unique subjects and relatively new topics.” These credentials are not as monumental an undertaking as PMP or PMI-ACP, but still come with the legitimacy of a PMI provided credential. In addition to the Agile Hybrid Project Pro, it there is also an Organizational Transformation Foundation micro-credential and a Citizen Developer micro-credential. For at least the Org Transformation and Citizen Developer credentials, these are the first in a series on each topic. If these succeed as offerings, I suspect we can see many more coming. These are a great idea in the respect that they fit the more modern learner’s need for self-paced training for specific subject matter on demand. They are also a smart way to test the market for new training content, and find more creative ways to add content.

Pricing is interesting – the Agile Hybrid micro-credential goes for $175, the new Organizational Transformation Foundation micro-credential goes for $350 and the Citizen Developer course for $29 – so there is a wide spread in price. With these and more on the way, I could see PMI’s traction from micro credentials eventually rivaling what they take in from their marquee credentials.

Agile Hybrid Project Pro

Per PMI, this credential is “ideal for traditional project managers who are beginning to venture into the Agile or Hybrid space… [this credential] verifies your skillset and increases your value to employers.” So, of course I couldn’t resist.

And of course… 13 PDU’s!

Figure 1 – PDU breakout for Hybrid Agile Project Pro

 

The credential is still in Beta. PMI says this means the certification is discounted from the $175 list price, and that they require you complete a couple surveys throughout the process so they can collect feedback. I completed the surveys, but didn’t seem to get the discount – perhaps I missed a step. Even at $175, I was happy to jump in.

The content outline is provided here. Like the PMI-ACP and the new PMP, reference material for the credential is not limited to PMI content, but extends to other content in the market. Even without reviewing all this content, if you have some hybrid delivery experience and go through the online course, you should fare well on the exam.

Signup

Perhaps because it’s still in beta, the signup process isn’t seamless at the moment, but it is pretty straightforward from the credential page. Once you sign up, you get an email that you have to hang on to, because it’s the one with the working links to the course. For me, I received another email after all the setup was complete for my e-learning page that didn’t show the course – but I could get there using the link in the initial email  I received. So, hang on to the email just in case.

Hybrid Project Pro Micro-Credential

Figure 2 – Don’t lose this email if you are taking this in BETA!

The Course

Having spent years delivering PMP prep training, this course was a refreshing change. The online self-paced course has 20 modules, each of which is presented through a relatable, real-world use case. These modules follow the same format as the content outline. Each lesson links back to Tools & Techniques from the PMBOK or PMI’s Agile Practice guide, and also provides links back to PMI’s extremely deep Resource library. I’ve never explored PMI’s Resource Library before, but was surprised at the depth and breadth of the content there. When I should have been focusing on my Hybrid Agile course, I found I kept following resource links and going down the rabbit hole in the library. My advice there is to save-off the interesting links for exploration after you finish the course, so you don’t get distracted like me 🙂

Each module has a short quiz to reinforce the topic. The quizzes worked well except there was a type of question – sort of a “category matcher” for some topics where you drag and drop statements (up to 9) to the correct category. You either get it all right or all wrong, and the hints at where you might have gotten them wrong were a bit cryptic, which was frustrating. There were a couple of these questions that I finally just gave up and moved on.

The Content

This being an Agile Hybrid course, I went in expecting there to be more content around the nuts and bolts of making hybrid projects work answering the questions:

  • How do you manage dependencies when you have multiple Agile teams delivering various parts of a solution?
  • How do you coordinate schedules across different Agile teams that may have different methodologies and different sprint cycles or durations?
  • How does a PM work with a Product Owner to integrate project-specific deliverables into an overall product backlog?

But, the course did not go to that level of technical detail.

The course focuses more on the people side of working with Agile (managing conflict, leading a team, engaging virtual teams). The parts which did touch on technical processes (plan and manage schedule, plan and manage scope) were pretty high level – perhaps in an effort to keep the course methodology agnostic. But still quite useful for getting you aligned with agile ways of working.

Overall, I’d say this course would be most useful to an established PM who needs to adopt an “agile” mindset to help deliver hybrid projects and needs to understand how that world works.

The Exam

Once you complete the course, you take the exam through Pearson Vue. It’s a non-proctored, timed, remote exam with 60 multiple-choice questions. The exam felt a bit like a PMP, in that the multiple-choice questions were often situational, and you had to have a good feel for how PMI wanted you to think to pick the right answer. They were challenging enough that when taking the exam, I wasn’t sure if the course had prepared me to pass the exam. But,  I passed on the first go, so there you have it!

Hybrid Project Pro Micro-Credential Diploma

Was it worth it?

It’s the only “Hybrid Agile” credential that I’m aware of, right now. I think it’s cool and I look forward to putting the badge on my LinkedIn profile. The new micro-credential format may be a response to other training competitors like LinkedIn Learning and Google’s new certs. It’s great to see PMI jump in the fray and start putting out accessible content. And it’s high quality content as you might expect. Plus, it’s a PMI credential that an experienced PM can knock out in an afternoon, so it’s nowhere near the commitment of a PMI marquee credential.

I felt that the scenario-based lessons in the online course were the best part of the process – they made the content relatable and helped reinforce some agile principles and approaches for me. I hope this credential is an indicator of how the PMI will deliver training going forward.

Is this credential going to teach you how to execute Hybrid Agile projects? Not really. It’s a good start for getting in the right mindset, but don’t look for it to give you the technical ins and outs of how to get your projects done in a hybrid world. Is it worth $175? It may be, if you need to demonstrate that you understand Agile Hybrid on your LinkedIn profile. If you’re already there and have the ‘street-cred’ of having worked on Hybrid projects, it may not be super useful. That said, if you do work in a Hybrid world and need to take a course to keep up your PMP, it was a nice way to get 13 PDUs. And coming from a background as an ‘old school’ PM, coursework that helps me develop more of an Agile mindset is good medicine.

And, even if this credential isn’t for you, definitely keep an eye on PMI’s evolving micro-credential space. We might see some really interesting things coming from this space.

Check out our other insights and articles here.

At Kolme Group we care and want to help you get the best out of your PPM Tool. Join Kim Essendrup, Kolme Co-founder, for a Free, 15-minute consultancy to discuss your PPM Tool needs and best steps forward

Tailoring Your Stakeholder Justification Messages When Investing In A Project Portfolio Management System

Tailor Stakeholder Justification Messages

We’ve had a great review of the strategic benefits, and hard and soft cost saving that you need to consider for your justification and/or business case in our recent post, Justifying A PPM Investment.  But, how do we ensure that you are talking about the right benefits to the right stakeholders? Keep reading to learn how tailoring your stakeholder justification messages when investing in a project portfolio management system. 

Let’s get started and begin by defining our stakeholders – Who are they? We’re going to categorize common stakeholders into 3 groups:  Finance, HR/Resource Management and Executives. 

We can’t stress enough how important it is for you to tailor your message!  Messages that don’t resonate with a particular stakeholder group will be just noise and potentially defocus the message. 

We like to call this the ‘Rabbit Hole of Details,’ and it can really throw you off track, especially with busy executives who might not be up to speed on the process. Wrong, questionable, or too much data distracts from the high-level conversation you planned to have. So start broad, and then zero-in on specifics. And we always recommend that you keep a few “just in case” slides in your back pocket.

Finance

One of our favorite conversations is talking to the Finance team. If you can provide direct benefit to the finance team, if you can make their lives easier and give them more accurate financials, or if you’re able to put their financials in your projects more accurately, faster, and with less administrative overhead, the finance team has a lot of sway in funding your projects 

We suggest tailoring your messages by adding:

  • Improved project budget management, especially for forecasting

    Anything where you can demonstrate the ability to have improved project budget management. Especially for forecasting. Now, if you’re in Professional Services, this is number one. This, in itself, will sell your PPM investment, if you can demonstrate that your forecasting is going to be more timely, and more responsive, and most importantly, more accurate. 

  • Data Accuracy and Transparency

    Of course, data accuracy and transparency are very important, being able to provide direct access into the PPM so they can see what the forecasts are, and also to keep the PMs in the loop in real-time. And, or course, more accurate data is vital, which brings us back around to… 

  • Automation and Simplification Stance

    Automation and simplification stance. Flipping that back around to the project managers, they’re going to be able to forecast and manage their projects better if they can get direct access into financials. So if we can automate bringing in financial data, your actual resource costs, your actual invoices for each item you’re spending money on, even timesheets or travel expenses, if you can get those into your PPM, it gives your project managers the power to make accurate forecasts, and helps you avoid a lot of firefighting. And this brings us back to our Single Source of Truth – the more you can automate, the more work you can do in a single system, the more accurate your data will be, and the easier it is on everyone. These are the kinds of benefits from a tool that really can help sell it! 

Bottom line: If you can give Finance assurance that they’re going to get better financial data, more accurate forecasts, and more timely information, this puts you in a good position to justify the expenditure. Heck, they may just buy it for you. 

HR & Resource Management

Next up is tailoring your messaging to your HR/Resource Management stakeholders.

From an HR/RM perspective, we want to think about Resource alignment. It’s really important to know what your resources are working on, what they’re doing: are they working on something important to your business i.e. your strategic initiatives? Are they improving quality, or reducing cost? We want our resources working on the projects that will provide the maximum value to the company, both short term and long term. 

The reason we need to prioritize these projects is because resources only have so many hours. In our 2018 whitepaper, we saw that reliable and accurate project data correlates with 62% improvement in resource utilization and project success. How many hours should resources be spending on new work vs. businessasusual? What percentage do we want going towards various initiatives? Resource Managers need to know when they are overor under-utilized, and they need to know before it hits crisis mode, and before company or customer expectations are set. 

Of course, when we say ‘resources’, we actually mean ‘people’. And when working with people, team satisfaction is key.

Using multiple tools, double- or even triple-reporting data, and spending hours each week manually creating slide reports –  it is  mindnumbing. It’s not fun to do on a Friday night before you can go home. Having all your data in a single source makes everyone’s job easier. Clarizen, for example, has Slide Publisher and Document Publisher, which allows you to create status reports with the click of a button. That leaves more time to do more valuable work, to do professional development, … and lets you can clock out on time on Fridays. 

That leads, again, into Automation and Simplification. A good PPM tool will have workflows, and scheduled workflows. Maybe the system will automatically send my status report out every week. Maybe I can log in and see at a glance which of my direct reports haven’t done their timesheets this week, and, with the click of a button, send them an email so they can update their time right from their inbox. Which ties back into team satisfaction, data accuracy and transparency, etc. 

Bottom line: Human Resources/Resource Management wants to know what people are working on and that they have the proper balance of capacity to support initiatives that are important to the business. 

 

What about headcount justification?

If you’re looking at your portfolio and you’ve got strategic initiatives coming down, and you’re at capacity, but these things are really important. Does that give me justification to add headcount? Or should I be reallocating people from, say, business-as-usual work, to more innovative projects. Your PPM will help you collect and evaluate that data, and then use it to justify those kinds of changes.

We’ve seen this used as a powerful tool to help build coalition with other managers. If you can get the light to go on, that, “This is a tool that can help you justify headcount.” Instead of saying, “We’re really busy, we need more people,” you can say, “For the new initiatives you’re asking for, I’ll need a 10% increase in staff to meet those requirements.

The justification’s really easy to see in nice-looking graphs on a portfolio planning screen with hard data backing it up, vs just saying ‘Believe me.’

Executive Stakeholders

A group that especially needs a precise, tailored business case are your Executive stakeholders. We talked about a lot of these benefits early on, because pretty much everything we’ve talked about touches the C-Suite in some way. And that’s a lot of information for very busy people. When you talk to them, you have the opportunity to assurthem that what you’re doing is aligned to their executive strategyHave that conversation. How are they measuring that alignment, and how can we ensure we’re meeting that, as a department and as a company. And that’s what this tool can do, and that will be the story that you can teach them. Help them understand that you have a common goal. 

And that’s the other thing. Your organization now isn’t the same organization it’s going to be a month from now, a quarter from now, a year from now. You’re always going to changing. Just look at that’s happened this year, you can’t foresee that. And we’re seeing a lot of businesses panicking, and just reacting because, well, ‘we have to do something.’ You have to be able to change, and to change smartYour tool might need to change, to start incorporating new data or new business processes. 

Justify your tool as giving you the data you need to justify a sound business decision, very quickly, and on the fly. 

  • Project alignment with Strategy 
  • Organizational Agility 
  • Automation and Simplification: 
  • Elimination of other systems ($$$$’s) 
  • Time to Market 
  • Delivery Quality / Project Success 
  • Lessons Learned 
  • Team / Customer / Stakeholder Satisfaction 
  • Data quality and timeliness 

At Kolme Group we care and want to help you get the best out of your PPM Tool. Join Kim Essendrup, Kolme Co-founder, for a Free, 15-minute consultancy to discuss your PPM Tool needs and best steps forward