PMI Matters Issue 3
Dear Members of the Lakeshore Chapter,
It is a great honor for me to write to you as the President of the Lakeshore Chapter. Today I want to put pen to paper about THREE components of our Chapter.
The First Component is our VOLUNTEERS:
I still remember my first volunteer position at this Chapter as Education-Marketing
AVP. I also remember the first time when I addressed this audience in 2010. I was
running for the Board elections then, and I was elected as the Treasurer of the
Lakeshore Chapter. The following Board cycle I was elected as the Senior VP, and now
as the President.
As a Professor of Project Management, I communicate directly to students the role of
PMI and The Lakeshore Chapter in advancing the Project Management Profession.
Our chapter planning efforts also focus on education outreach. I am glad to see today
that tens of students are members of this chapter and that some of them are
volunteers and many more are interested in becoming volunteers.
Throughout my journey at the Lakeshore Chapter, I was honored to work with a team
of dedicated volunteers. Volunteers are really the back bone of our Chapter and our
members are the most important asset that we have. Everything that we do is driven
by our passion to give back to the community. As the interest in volunteerism at our
Chapter increases, we are glad to know that we are using a new VRMS system to
register new volunteers and their interests and to manage new and existing volunteer
opportunities. The Lakeshore Chapter welcomes volunteers and any new ideas from
our members and volunteers.
The Second Component is BEST PRACTICES:
When one hears the word PMI, the first thing that comes to mind is best practices in
project management. The challenge here is continuous improvement which is a never
ending effort. As the leading global organization in Project Management, PMI sets the
standards for others to follow. The fact that certification programs and especially PMP certification is continuous at PMI, requires us to continuously satisfy the
professional development requirements set by PMI. To this extent, we are widening
the scope of our services at the Lakeshore Chapter, through new certification
programs, Agile Certification is coming up soon for example and there will also be
new events that may be held at different locations and durations such as breakfast or
lunch time meetings.
Given the dynamic nature of the business environment, organizations need to
constantly adapt and restructure in order to survive and grow. As PMPs we also need
to be aware of the new characteristics, trends and changes in the global and macro
environment. For example during this digital economy era we recognize the effects
of: Big Data and Analytics, Enterprise Mobility, Cloud Computing, IT Security and Risk
In addition we need to be aware of the following: Where will the next billion
consumers come from? The role of India and China? The role of Public Private
Partnerships (PPPs) in rebuilding the critical infrastructure in developed economies.
The greater demand on human capital. Increasing healthcare costs. The effect of the
increase in demand on commodities on consumer prices. Soft innovations and the
next big thing: will it be nano-technology, robots, 3D printers, or else?
At the Lakeshore Chapter we do our best to provide our members with disclosures of
concurrent notions and discussions of latest topics of interest in project management
through our events. Your suggestions and feedback are highly important to us so
please feel free to communicate to us your thoughts in order to continuously improve
our operations. We like to see ourselves as driven by the voice of our members. So let
us hear your voice.
The Third Component is VALUES:
Here I want to describe the correlation between a curved line and motivation. This
curved line is the smile on our faces. What is interesting here is the effect of this
curved line on setting everything else straight in our lives. It is all about being GOOD
to others. It is all about being GOOD and doing GOOD. An honest smile definitely goes
a long way. This raises many questions to address: How do we make others feel? How
do we want others to remember us as? So please remember to smile, because an
honest smile not only makes you feel better but also makes others feel better. When I look at PMI volunteers, I notice the diversity that we have which is a great strength factor. Our diversity is a great driving force towards creativity and innovation. At the Lakeshore Chapter we WILL BE celebrating our diversity in the months ahead.
And now I would like to share with you our newly elected Board member Shahid Muhammed and our returning Board members. Please join me in welcoming and congratulating:
- Kelly Pauly as our new Past President and Chair
- Richard Steer as new Senior VP
- Mihaela Duceag as Treasurer
- Pamela King as Secretary
- Shahid Muhammed as new Professional Development Director
- Fatima Gadoury as the Membership Director
- Alison Copoc as Marketing Director
- Lauryn McClelland as Events Director
- Joseph Zielinski as Communications Director
Driven by the voice of our members, with this team of Directors and by focusing on the three components mentioned earlier, I look forward to working with all of you to make our chapter shine brighter on the global radar of project management.
Dr. Wael Ramadan is a Professor of Project Management. He taught Project Management and Business Administration courses for over eleven years at the MBA, Executive, graduate and undergraduate levels at leading schools of business in Canada, USA, Holland, Switzerland & Palestine. He earned his PhD from Cleveland State University (US) with a focus on 'The Sustainable Competitive Advantage of Small and Medium Sized Establishments and Organizational Culture", and along with his MBA and Bachelor of Engineering, he also holds a number of industry certifications including: PMP since 2001, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (LSSBB), Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance (LRQA) ISO Quality Auditing UK (2000). He has twelve scholarly activities and has received five academic scholarships including Fulbright.
How I Became a Project Manager
The famed interview question... “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” I never even considered saying that I expected to be managing large scale global IT projects for one of the largest international freight forwarding & warehousing companies, but that’s where I am now... and I finally feel like I have a career path in front of me...
Not so long ago, I was in a position where my days were filled with nothing more than phone calls to vendors asking them to confirm receipt or corrections to electronically transmitted documents... Needless to say, I was bored out of my skull, but was not considered as a candidate for Project Management, because I was “good” at my job and they did not want to lose me.
My first lesson in “practical” project management was starting. I had a reasonable salary with a stable company, and was in my comfort zone (sort of)... After a little soul searching, I discovered that RISK is not always negative... Sometimes you have to accept RISK, in order to obtain increased benefits... I accepted a position as a JR EDI Coordinator with the freight forwarding company. This position provided the challenge I was looking for... and more...
After some research, I discovered the PMI.org website and concluded that being a PMP was an achievable goal... but how would I get the practical hours required? Hmmm... Must be part of a project team. Some of my previous experience would apply, but not anywhere near the required amount...
Wait, I have been a volunteer with the Canadian International Air Show for the last 15 years, as part of their Transportation & Logistics team. I am now managing the department. Each year, the show has a clear “starting” point, a clear ending, and I am responsible for planning, resources, tasks, budgeting, reporting etc... Hey! This sounds like a project!
And there you have it. I wrote the CAPM exam. I proudly showed my CAPM certificate to my boss! His response was refreshing: Since I was interested in Project Management, he would provide me with opportunities to use my newly acquired knowledge. These opportunities were an eye opening experience for me. I actually enjoyed Project Management. I started working on my PMP, wrote and passed the PMP exam.
Then the most unexpected thing happened. The VP of IT and my manager informed me that they were looking for a ProjectManager to migrate all our legacy data transformation programs to the new application... This was a large scale project with anexpected duration of 1 year, and a project team comprised of roughly 20 team members including 4-6 contractors and others...
They were offering me this position!
This project was successfully completed at the end of 2012. It was not easy, but the learning opportunities (both professional and personal) were tremendous.
Shortly thereafter, I was approached by our German management team (Corporate Head Office) and asked another stunning question... “I heard you did a great job on your migration project. I am wondering if you would be interested in heading this global migration project (16 months, 40 team members from Germany, US and Canada and so on...)?
To summarize, here are the steps I have taken to become a Project Manager:
1. Take control of your own destiny. Don’t rely on others to “give” you opportunities. Create the opportunities yourself.
2. Don’t be afraid to take reasonable risks. (Status quo will never lead to much progress).
3. Volunteer to gain experience. Even if you already have plenty of experience, volunteering will allow you to expand your
knowledge into uncharted territories.
4. Always observe and learn.
5. Always be a “Leader”. This applies to ALL walks of life. The biggest difference between being “good” and being “great”
is the proper use of leadership techniques.
6. Don’t try to be perfect, but take responsibility and learn from your mistakes.
7. Get involved with your PMI Chapter. Meet other Project Managers at the various stages of their careers, and learn
from each other. Share experiences.
8. Always be open-minded to new ideas. If you get stuck on a single track, you can only end up at the next station. Allow
others to give you alternate directions.
9. Don’t choose a career because you CAN... choose it because you WANT it.
I realize that my path to Project Management is not common, and that I was very lucky to have the opportunities I have had. Regardless of the impression you may have received while reading this article, I still consider myself a junior project manager (I have only been PMP Certified for the last 6 years after all). This comes from my belief that I will never “know it all”... I strongly feel that it is that there is more to learn and one should never stop learning.
Best of luck to all aspiring and practicing Project Managers, as you proceed in your quest to project management happiness!
Michele Pelletier works for DBSchenker as a Project Manager, Special Projects for the Customer and Enterprise Integration team (IT). Prior to this, she worked for Keane Canada Inc, as a Senior Consultant (for Shoppers Drug Mart EDI team) and at Shoppers Drug Mart, starting at their Support desk and progressing to the Store Financial Systems IT team. She has also volunteered with the Canadian International Air show for 15 years, where she most recently held the role of Manager, Transportation & Logistics. She was PMP certified in 2009, and been a member of PMI and the Lakeshore Chapter since 2007. She has recently begun volunteering with the Lakeshore Chapter Newsletter team.
Using Social Networking Tools to Identify with Stakeholders
We all know that communication is the greatest tool that the project manager has in his/her arsenal. It is a key skill to be able to
identify with stakeholders and understand their wants, needs, and expectations. When challenged with a new project, I create a
list of stakeholders. This includes not only the project sponsors and project team, but also those individuals who could
potentially be affected by the project.
We need to be able to strike up conversations and have relationships with all of these people. I am an advocate of getting to
know your stakeholders through social networking tools. By this, I do not mean adding your list of stakeholders as friends on
Facebook. However, there is a substantial amount of knowledge that can be obtained by these sites. Once you have a list of
stakeholders, look them up on LinkedIn. This can identify their past histories and career paths. This can make it relatively easy to
strike up a conversation.
Also, you may find you learn a little about stakeholders’ motivations, which is like having an ace up your sleeve in the game of
communication. For example, you can state to your stakeholder, “I’ve heard that you came from company X....I have heard that
this company can be stringent on policies and guidelines. How did you deal with this aspect of the company?” You can also find
out what groups they belong to within linked in and strike up a conversation about this. For example, “I’m interested in joining
such and such a group......do you have any experience with them?” Getting to know stakeholders interests can affect the project
positively and can get some of them on your side.
We have all Googled ourselves and friends to see what information is retrieved. You can also do this with stakeholders to see if
there is any information which may strike a chord. Just knowing that someone belongs to a certain professional organization or
that they volunteer for a particular cause can strike up a conversation that breaks down those invisible walls.
This is the essence of playing the social game. If the stakeholder belongs to several SharePoint groups and is a clear advocate of
SharePoint, you may want to discuss how your project integrates with SharePoint.
Here are some sites that may be of interest to you to play the social networking game:
- Google: information about everything
- LinkedIn: Professional information and interest groups
- Facebook: Social network and interest groups
- Jigsaw: Good for company categorizations and relationships. As well, can list names and numbers of people within the organization
Of course, nothing will replace real conversations with real people, but these sites can give you information to start conversation pieces that interest your audience. This engages your audience and provides a path to an enhanced relationship.
Blair Collings has worked for various companies throughout his career, including: Gamestop, Rogers, and most currently Target. He has worked on various IT infrastructure and development projects, including ERP and SharePoint. He is a member of PMI as well as a volunteer for two reasons: 1. Give back to the profession that he loves and 2. Meet new people to develop different perspectives concerning project management. Blair is currently part of the PMI Editorial Board for the Lakeshore Chapter Newsletter and is also a writer for the Chapter.
Project planning should start with the 5 W questions before getting to the How?
With all of the tools, techniques and processes within our profession, we sometimes lose sight of the
basic principles of project management. One way to ensure that you are not over-complicating things is
to assess your approach from the perspective of a small child.
On project planning, understanding & communicating the five W’s can provide context and perspective
for the low-level details found within the individual project plans.
? What – at its very essence, scope definition is about answering the “What do we want to do?”
question. It’s amazing how many projects will consume significant resources (and churn as a result)
without having a simple answer.
? Why (and Why, Why, Why, and Why?) – If there’s one thing we lose as we grow up, it’s the admirable (?!?) persistence
that a small child demonstrates when trying to learn about something new. We might ask the “Why are we doing this
project?” question once or twice, but how often do we probe really deep to understand the fundamental root benefits
& motivations that are driving its existence? We should adopt the traditional performance improvement technique
which recommends asking “Why?” five times to ensure that we are not presenting a surface-level driver as the main
reason for investing in a project.
? Who – Although the “What” might not have been sufficiently decomposed to identify all of the skills or competencies
required, there should be some idea of the critical roles that are required to deliver the What.
? When – When is the latest that the What must be delivered to enable the organization to achieve the Why?
? Where – where is the optimal location for the work to be performed and where will the What be used?
The project manager’s focus can now shift to the question that too often gets all the attention before there’s a good
understanding of the five W’s: How? This ensures that we don’t spend too much time on approach, methodologies and
practices, without having first understood the project’s essence.
Reproduced by permission from Kiron Bondale, Easy in theory, difficult in practice. Governance, Project Portfolio Management
and other organization change challenges!
Kiron has managed multiple mid-to-large-sized technology and change management projects, and has worked in both internal and professional services project management capacities. He has setup and managed Project Management Offices (PMO) and has provided project portfolio management and project management consulting services to over a hundred clients across multiple industries. Kiron is an active member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and served as a volunteer director on the Board of the PMI Lakeshore Chapter for six years