Tips For Facilitating Meetings

You’ll get more out of your time together when you structure meetings.

Share the agenda
Prepare an agenda and share it with everyone before the meeting is due to take place. If possible, give the team a chance to comment on the topics up for discussion and to tell you about additional things they would like to talk about during the meeting. The purpose of having an agenda is to keep the meeting on track and to make sure that nothing important is forgotten. Sending out the agenda in advance helps as it prompts people to come to the meeting prepared to discuss the topics. They have time to gather together any facts or to prepare their updates.

Store documents online
Meetings generate project documents. You may want to refer to these during your meeting or you could be meeting to prepare and agree a document! The easiest way to make sure that everyone has access to the latest version of your project documents is to store them online in your project management software. You can make decisions because you’ll be able to access all the project information that you need from the meeting, even if you didn’t print out and bring along a copy of that important file.

Meet virtually
You can have successful meetings that don’t involve bringing the whole project team together in one room. Use collaboration software to host online discussions. This might not be a traditional way to meet with the rest of your team, but it can be very effective, especially if you are short of time.

Start and finish on time
Whether you meet virtually via a conference call or all turn up in the same room, it is important that you start and finish your meeting on time. This is respectful of other people’s time and it will also make sure that you get the most discussion time possible from your allocated slot.

Of course, if you have finished talking about all the topics on the agenda and there is nothing left to say, then end the meeting and let everyone go! There’s no point in dragging out the meeting just to fill the time slot, but if you find yourself rushing through it is probably best to leave the additional talking points to another day rather than struggle to fit them in today.

Issue minutes promptly
After the meeting you should send out the record of what was discussed in the form of meeting minutes. It’s best to do this as soon as you can. It’s easier for you as you’ll remember what happened and what was agreed and it gives everyone else the chance to review the notes and make any comments as they will remember better as well.

Share documents, host discussions and keep your project minutes to hand.

Projects Programs and Portfolios

Many people hear the terms projects, programs and portfolio, but are not sure what they all mean and how they fit together. All three are structures that allow us to organize certain types of work. These three concepts need to be understood by project managers.

Projects

Projects, by their definition, have a defined start and end date. There is a point in time when the work did not exist (before the project), when it does exist (the project), and when it does not exist again (after the project). This is the key determinant of whether a piece of work is a project. Projects also include a defined scope, finite budget and assigned resources. Another characteristic of a project is that they always build something. Projects always create one or more deliverables.

Programs

Some initiatives are so large that it makes sense to break them up into a set of smaller projects. These smaller projects are easier to plan, manage and finish successfully. However, the problem with breaking up work into smaller projects is that each project may start to make independent decisions that will be good for that project, but detrimental to the initiative as a whole.

The purpose of a program is to provide central management and control over a set of underlying projects that are all trying to deliver a common solution. The program allows the projects to achieve a common benefit that would be difficult for each project to achieve independently.

Portfolios

Portfolios are collections of work. The term is used a couple ways. Portfolios can actually be similar to departments in that they could exist on the organization chart. One day you could have a Finance Department and the next day you could have a Finance Portfolio.

However, in most cases the portfolio is not a formal organization but is a logical way to group, organize and manage a collection of work. The work may be related or it may not be. A portfolio typically contains projects, but they can also include support, operations and other types of work as well. Portfolio management is generally performed by managers. Projects are initiated, approved and prioritized at the portfolio level. The collection of active projects is then staffed, monitored and supported at the portfolio level.

Summary

Projects are temporary endeavors to build one or more deliverables. Program are very large initiatives that are broken up into a set of smaller projects and then coordinated centrally. The projects in a program are related. Portfolios are collections of work – usually projects – and are a way to plan and manage the projects from an organization perspective. The projects may or may not be related.  

Traits Of A Company’s ‘Top Talent’

There are few hiring attributes across the company. If it’s a technical role, we assess your coding ability. For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive.”

The savvy candidate will recognize that all businesses are challenged by rapid changes both industry specific and in the general economy. The ideal employee can help their firm in adapting to market disruption. About 2500 years ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed, “the only constant in life is change.”

“Top talent” tends to embrace change and enjoys the challenge of working in a dynamic environment where everything isn’t predictable. They tend to be more innovative and flexible in their approach to solving problems and have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Management across industries has a difficult task discerning whether a candidate has these traits. Why not make management’s job easy by finding examples of how you possess these traits. If these qualities are expected from the leaders of the company, it’s logical they would also be favorable for the firm’s employees. Once you know what hiring managers’ are looking for in perspective new hires, you can tailor your responses in an interview accordingly. Your answers should focus on sharing experiences and accomplishments that best demonstrate how you possess those particular attributes.

Adaptable

“Top talent” can adjust to new rules, new demands, new people and new environments. They cope well with the unexpected and have a positive attitude. They’re willing to try and learn new ways to achieve targets and they keep an open mind.

Employers are looking for top talent who are:
Rapid Learners
Resilient
Quickly change priorities to respond to changing goals
Try to improve process by rapidly acquiring and integrating new information
Foster an environment of process improvement rather than blame
Remain calm and composed under stress
Can manage completing assignments with competing deadlines

Collaborative

“Top talent” recognizes when he is the best person for the task and when it’s critical to join others and work as a part of a team.
Follow through on commitments
Strong communication skills
Don’t take negative feedback personally
Don’t take credit for good results
Get along well with others
Not fearful of incorporating team members with superior expertise for a superior outcome

Adept problem solver

“Top talent” doesn’t hesitate to fix a problem.
First to offer to help
Come through fast and over deliver
Offer creative, innovative solutions
Inspire others to take action
Consistent
Provide a new approach to solving problems

Humility

“Top talent” knows her talents and doesn’t need to broadcast them to fellow employees or to their superior. This personality exudes confidence but not in a way that intimidates others. Their calm tone and mild manner draws people to them and makes it easy for others to come to them for help and to open up to them about challenges they face.
Embrace others’ better ideas
Learn from failure
Step back to see if someone has a better point

Leadership

When faced with a problem as a team member, “top talent” intuitively knows the appropriate time to step in or step back; s/he focuses on the project’s success, not on a rigid leadership structure.

Great leaders tend to be inclusive, humble, self-directed and mission focused and inspire others to action. An employee who exhibits leadership ability is generally well respected by co-workers. They have demonstrated competence and are often known to seek feedback (both positive and negative). Top talent shows genuine concern for the well being of the group.

“Top talent” NEVER Says:

“It’s not my job”!

Companies are ALWAYS ready to hire and retain top talent. Though the hard skills may vary from one firm to the next, the soft skills, which define traits for top talent, are universal.

The primary goal for all new hires should be to learn everything necessary to excel at your new job and to exceed your supervisors’ expectations. In order to do this well, you need to understand what’s expected of you AND your boss. Becoming top talent requires more than using your expertise to do an adequate job at work. It necessitates using your talents, creativity and expertise to advance the success of your team and of your company.

Team Needs to Know BEFORE Start a Project

1. Where and How to Report Time

Reporting time against a project is critically important where and how to report timefor a number of reasons, the first of which is the impact it has on billing. Companies that bill on a Time and Materials basis need to account for every hour billed against a project to increase their revenue. Accurate time reporting is also important in understanding areas where efficiencies can be introduced, identifying areas where bottlenecks occur, providing for more accurate estimates for the next project, and tracking employee performance and utilization.

When is the right time to make sure your project team knows when and how to report their time? Certainly not at the end of the project; I’ve seen it happen way too many times. Days, weeks, and sometimes months will go by without a stitch of time being reported against a project. Then there’s a last minute scramble to gather everyone’s time.

Nobody can remember what they did yesterday, let alone three weeks ago. People jump into Outlook to see what meetings they attended, what emails they sent, and what conversations they had in a feeble effort to cobble together a less-than-accurate record of how they spent their time.

Tell your team members how and when to report their time at the beginning of a project. This is especially important if it’s a new team that hasn’t worked with you before. They need to understand that you require time entered AT THE MOST on a daily basis, if not more often throughout the day. This is really the only way there can be any semblance of accuracy. It also prevents the mad scramble of inaccurate (or even false) time reporting at the end of the project. This is no good for either the client or the company.

Make sure everyone has the right access to report their time as well. They should have no problem logging into the system and knowing where to look to report their time.

2. When and How to Raise an Issue

Things are not always going to go perfectly smooth on a project, so it’s important to know as early as possible if something is veering off track. Your team should know, prior to the project starting, how important it is to raise issues. How and when do you want your team to bring issues to your attention? Perhaps you have a weekly status meeting designated as the time and place to bring something up. Or, you may prefer that at the first wind of something going off track somebody bring it to your attention; this would allow you time to monitor the situation closely and make any necessary adjustments sooner rather than later.

Make sure your team understands your preferences, as well as how you like to discuss any issues that arise. It might be that you want an email, or are sufficed with a quick conversation in the hallway in order to keep the information flowing before anything more serious occurs.

3. When and How to Deliver Bad News

Despite the best of intentions and efforts, delivering bad newsrisks may turn into issues and derail a project. A missed deadline, budget overrun, or technical problem could occur; in other words, just plain old bad news. Make sure your team knows the best way to deliver bad news before it happens.

When something does goes wrong, I’ve seen many people take delight with an almost “I told you so” response to the situation. They can’t wait to point out error, and offer no suggestions or options to get things fixed or back on track again.

Make sure your team knows your expectations before bad news occurs on project. Ensure they come with options and alternatives to fix the issue.

4. What to Say to a Client

It may be necessary at times for our resources to meet with a client on the phone or face to face. This is not a conversation that should be taken lightly. You may be used to working with clients all day long. You understand the fine art of communicating with clients, setting expectations, resetting priorities and generally keeping everyone on the same page. Your project team members may not have this same experience.

They may be accustomed to the rough and tumble, say-what’s-on-your-mind environment of the office, and are comfortable with their peers and colleagues. They may throw around words like can’t, won’t, don’t, shouldn’t and a host of other negative, black-and-white phrases among themselves that, if used with a client, can quickly shut down the interaction and forward momentum.

Make sure your team understands there are more appealing, constructive and eloquent ways to say the exact same thing to a client BEFORE they meet with the client. I’ve seen too many train wrecks caused by uninformed team members who feel they just have to open their mouth to set the record straight with the client. Spend some time teaching them what those more appropriate phrases and topics are, or develop a cheat sheet they can refer to before a client-facing meeting that will refresh their memories. Also, don’t be afraid to let them know they should focus on their technical areas of expertise while you focus on the client relationship management piece.

Timing is everything. Make sure your team knows what you expect of them before a project begins and your projects will be that much more successful.

Manage a Process Improvement Project

We’ve all heard the time-tested, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and have probably applied it to many situations. If something is working, why go in and make changes? On the surface, this statement seems valid; in the context of today’s marketplace, it is very flawed. Companies can’t afford to wait until a product or process breaks in order to fix it or make it better. There are times when something that is working just fine needs to be thrown out the window and something new needs to take its place, such as updating systems and processes to introduce efficiency and profitability.

Projects that improve the process are trickier than projects that fix or introduce something totally new, because people using a current process and system may not see the need for change. They may be perfectly comfortable with the way things work, and to introduce a change will only complicate their daily efforts…initially.

Case in point: I am finishing up a project for a company that revamped their entire process for getting work out the door. The project introduced changes in workflow, software, approvals, and a dozen other processes that had devolved over the course of a decade. A tangled web of staging areas, approval and rejection processes, and rework queues had been cobbled together and it was now time to streamline in order to increase efficiency and visibility.

The problem was that the patchwork of processes worked! Everyone had become knowledgeable about the nuances and quirkiness of the existing system and wasn’t ready to charge forward with change. Management decreed that it must be done, however, and so it shall be done. However, at nearly every stage of the project, users grumbled that it would only complicate things and make it just that much harder for them. Sure, they saw the big picture and future benefits, but they were primarily focused on their little slice of the process.

Remodeling projects need to be managed differently than startup projects, to make sure the new system and processes are adopted throughout a company. The following are 6 steps you can take to help make sure this type of project is successful.

1. Make Sure Everyone’s Needs are Understood

A big part of successfully managing a process improvement change is to make sure that everyone’s needs are understood. Notice that I used the word understood and not addressed. The reality is that a project focused on improving a process will not be able to address everyone’s needs. For example, someone may come back with the requirement that they need the system to act exactly the way it did before. Now, we all know that’s not possible. But, you can acknowledge the fact that you understand what they are asking for and will do what you can to make sure the new system behaves somewhat similar to the existing system.

How can you do this? Requirements gathering is absolutely critical at this stage. Thoroughly interview all users until you know what they do, what they don’t do, and what they need to do. Keep track of each user’s requirements in a traceability matrix that links their requests or needs to a particular feature or new way of doing things. This serves as an important reference throughout the life cycle of the project so they know their needs are not being overlooked or swept under the carpet. It communicates that all of their needs may not be addressed, that some things have to be done a different way or may not be able to be done at all.

2. Start Rolling Out with a Small Group

As soon as a new piece of functionality or revised processroll-out with a small group first is in place, give it a trial run with a small group of users, preferably those who were involved in the original requirements gathering sessions. Watch and listen to them closely. Where do they get stuck? What questions come up? What objections are raised? Their responses are an early indication of how smooth (or not) the roll out to a larger group of users will be.

Give them a bit of time to get used to the new way of doing something, and then come back for more feedback. Don’t discount or dismiss what they are saying. Listen. Seek to understand their position before you say, “Yeah, but….” You won’t be able to address all of their concerns, but they will at least know you understood and listened to them.

3. Create a Mechanism for Issue Reporting

No new system, process, or software is going to be perfect out of the gate. You need to ensure there is a way to easily and unobtrusively capture any issues people report. I’ve seen issue tracking systems that require super-secret agent ninja skills just to create a trouble ticket. Then, you have to be an expert in hierarchical classification skills to pick the exact granular issue type to attach to the issue. Don’t do this. Make sure your issue reporting system is simple and straightforward in order to not frustrate the user.

4. Focus on Stability

Stability is the biggest area of focus when improving a new process or system. People always refer back to the old way of doing things, and argue that they never had a problem the way it was before. That may or may not be true, or they may not remember all the workarounds they had to come up with to get through the old way. Regardless, you want to remove any instability (broken processes, error messages, performance issues, etc.) from the new way of doing things immediately. Put your best team on standby, so that they can make any adjustments necessary. Stability is increased when minimal time is wasted between an issue quickly being reported (remember #3) and resolved.

5. Develop the Right Training

Training can range from a 30,000 foot overview of what is being taught to a face-pressed-against-the-window-pane view of the subject matter. Make sure the training for the new process or feature set addresses how something was done before, and compares how it is done now. Show the differences and improvements, and talk about the reasons why it’s been done this way. Zero in with a hands-on approach with real information so when everyone leaves they can return to their desks knowing exactly what they need to do.

6. Put Phase 2 Together

Your feedback is going to fall into two categories: 1) hey, this is broken and 2) wouldn’t it be nice if. Address the broken issues immediately (see #4), and listen closely to the wishful feedback. Put those improvement requests into a wish list for Phase 2, and you can begin to prioritize how to change something that is already running well to run even better.

Also, be up-front about known issues. Something may be reported that can’t be fixed for a while. You have two choices to make: you can pretend a particular issue doesn’t exist and hope that people don’t come across it, or you can publicize it, address when it will be fixed, and instruct how to deal with it in the meantime. People appreciate transparency and forthrightness, as opposed to stumbling across the issue in the middle of trying to get something important done.

Today’s competitive environment requires that we throw the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality out the window. Be mindful of the fact that process improvement projects are very different than others, and follow the points above to make the transition from good to great that much easier.

Tips for Effective Status Meetings

Status meetings are a good way to maintain effective communication on a project. There are some simple rules and etiquettes that will make them more production and valuable to the attendees.

1. All individual meetings should have an agenda that describes the major aspects of the meeting and the timeframes. Regularly scheduled, ongoing status meetings do not need a published agenda every week if they stick to the same agenda format. Instead they use a “standing agenda” which is understood to be the same for each meeting.

2. Someone should document the key points of the meeting. This will be the facilitator or originator unless other arrangements have been made. This person is sometimes called a “scribe”. The scribe should recap all outstanding action items, including who is responsible, what is expected, and when the action item is due.

3. There should be a meeting facilitator. This is usually the project manager unless other arrangements have been made.

4. Make sure the participants know ahead of time of anything they need to bring to the meeting or any advance preparation that needs to take place.

5. Only invite the people that need to be there. Others may dilute the effectiveness of the meeting.

6. The meeting should start on time, with some allowance for those that may be coming from another meeting.

7. The person who requested the meeting should explain the purpose and the expected outcome.

8. The facilitator needs to follow the agenda and watch the time to make sure everything gets covered.

9. Take any lengthy discussions offline or to a separate meeting that focuses on these items with the people that are most interested.

10. The scribe or facilitator should recap the notes and any decisions that were made and send them to attendees and other appropriate stakeholders.

Is There Too Much Problem Solving?

There can be a temptation to engage in problem solving when you have all the key people together at one time. However, the concern about problem solving is that usually only a few people are engaged in any one problem, while everyone else is unengaged and wasting time. While you have everyone together, use the time to discuss general status, issues, scope and risk. Only use problem solving if the problems are of interest to most of the team members.

Long meetings are usually the result of too much problem solving. If you find that problem solving is extending the meeting, try to reduce the time allocated to the meeting. For instance, if you meet for two hours per week and find you are engaging in problem solving try reducing the time of the meetings to 90 or 60 minutes. Keep the status meetings short with a tight agenda to be most effective.

Organization Culture Influences Project Success

It should come as no shock to learn that some organizations are better than others at managing projects. There are probably no organizations that have a 100% success rate, and hopefully none have a 0% success rate. However, some organizations definitely perform at a higher level than others.

There are a number of organizational factors that influence your ability to deliver projects successfully. Your organization’s culture has a lot to do with the success rate of your projects.

The term “culture” generally means “how we do things around here.” Imagine someone asked you how successfully your organization delivers projects. If you say “we’re pretty poor at delivering projects,” you are voicing a perception of one aspect of your culture.

There are a number of areas where culture comes into play on projects.

•Process orientation. Many organizations have good processes in place, and people generally follow them. This is perhaps the biggest single factor in overall project success. If your organization follows a good, scalable project management process, you are more likely to be consistently successful on your projects. This means that the entire project team generally knows how to create and follow a workplan and can use standard processes to effectively handle risk, scope change and issues.

•Governance. Many organizations have processes in place, but no one follows them. This highlights a problem with management governance. In simplistic terms, governance is the management function having to do with making sure people do what they are supposed to do. Typically, if your management structure is engaged and interested in projects, and if they make sure that your project management process is followed, you will tend to be more successful. If every project manager is on his or her own and management support is haphazard, then you will tend to be unsuccessful.

•Training. Some organizations do a poor job of training project managers. Typically, these types of organizations do a poor job of training in general. If project managers generally do not have the right skills (other than from the school of hard knocks) you will not be successful.

•Roles and responsibilities. In successful organizations, people typically know the role they play on projects and what is expected of them. This includes active sponsors, interested clients and engaged management stakeholders. The sponsor, for instance, needs to perform a quality assurance role, as well as be the project champion in his or her organization. If your organization starts projects and leaves the project manager in a leadership vacuum, you are not going to be consistently successful.

Culture plays perhaps the biggest role in whether your organization is successful executing projects. If your organization has difficulty completing projects successfully, you cannot just blame the project managers. They are only toiling within a culture that is not supportive of their efforts. Managers, including the head of the organization, need to step up and evaluate the project culture. Until the culture changes, project managers will consistently struggle to be successful.

Describe Project Value Using a Business Case

Describe Project Value Using a Business Case

It can be hard to compare and prioritize the projects in your portfolio because there are many different types of projects. Some projects might increase revenue, some might decrease costs and some might help build internal capability. All of them have some benefit but it may not be easy to know which ones are the most valuable and which ones are the most aligned to your goals and strategies.

One of the ways that you compare projects is through a common Business Case. The Business Case describes the reasons and the justification for the project based on its estimated costs, the risks involved and the expected future business benefits and value. The sponsor responsible for the Business Case.

Business Cases should contain the following information:

Description of the project. This is a brief description of what is being proposed. Keep this to a couple paragraphs maximum, but also make sure that it provides enough information so that others can understand the work that is being proposed.

Assumptions. List the circumstances or events that must occur for the project to be successful. Assumptions are the things that are considered to be true even though they are not 100% facts. There is some uncertainty, but the Business Case “assumes” certain things to be true for the purpose of planning and definition.

Risks. List the circumstances or events that would be a major impediment to the success of the project. Risks have a probability of occurring, but they are not guaranteed to occur. Risks generally are seen as bad things that have a detrimental impact on the project.

Financial model. Your organization must create the common financial model for all projects (ROI, EVA, etc.). This is extremely important if you are going to compare projects on an apples-to-apples basis.

Estimated business benefit. You must try to determine tangible and intangible benefits in terms of your common financial model. Some business benefit may be indirect, but the benefits should be as tangible as possible to compare favorable with other projects.

Estimated cost. Provide as accurate estimate of the cost as possible. Your department may set a standard for the level of accuracy required. For the Business Case, you might look for estimated cost to be within 35%-50%.

Alignment. Validate the alignment by specifying how this work contributes and aligns to your department goals and strategies. Your organization should have a pre-defined model and common rating scheme for alignment so that you can compare projects effectively.

Is the work required? Specify whether you feel this work is essential. Some work may be required for legal or regulatory reasons, even if it is not aligned and does not have obvious business benefit.

Urgency. Describe the required timing of the project. Some projects need to start at a certain time. Some projects must be completed by a certain time. Other projects can be executed at any time throughout the coming year.

Consequence of not performing this year. Describe what the consequences are of not performing the work. In many cases, this is just as important to know as the business benefit and alignment.

It may seem like this is a lot of work. In fact, it might be. However, the Business Case is used to determine the projects that get funding and those that don’t. So, it is important to spend the right amount of time on the Business Case. If you don’t do a good job on this document, your project may not compare favorably with other projects that have more detail and relevant information.

Things Successful Employees Do at Work Everyday

Are you wondering what makes a person successful? What is it that they do every day at their jobs that brings on the accolades?

Interestingly, while hiring, recruiters don’t just look for core skills relevant to the job, but heavily weigh personality while determining the right employee.

So what makes a successful employee and what does he/she do to earn that rare distinction at work? Let’s find out!

1. They Plan and Work Smart

Successful employees plan their day’s agenda judiciously and more often than not they begin early as well. Whether it is a meeting with the team, a sales call, or sending important mails – a plan is laid out to achieve short-term goals and work on the long- term targets. But the hard working employee is also a smart worker. He/she knows importance of delegating the right tasks to the right people at the right time to and is a pro at his/her tasks too.

2. They are Action-oriented

To be successful, you need to take action and put in efforts! Successful employees respect this maxim and follow it religiously. He/she knows that there are no shortcuts to success. They take chances, achieve their goals and set out to attain newer and higher goals and, this is what sets them apart from other employees.

3. They are Detail-Oriented

The intelligent worker knows the value of detail. So whether it is an email, a white-paper or a presentation that needs to be prepared – keeping a tab on details is crucial. Successful employees often also make special notes in their diaries or on their digital devices (phones, tablets etc) of vital information discussed at meetings, or during phone calls. It’s these apparently ‘small’ details that ultimately add up to make up the bigger picture.

4. They Think Different

Each day is a new challenge and calls for fresh ideas and a new approach. The successful employee comes to work with a fresh mind and wants to do things differently. Stagnating employees usually follow conventional wisdom, and end up producing no positive results.

5. They Take Breaks

At work it is crucial to take breaks and recharge your batteries. Whether it is indulging in a hearty laugh or a good conversation, enjoying coffee with colleagues or simply going through a collection of bad jokes on the net – intelligent employees make it a point to give their gray cells that much required rest in between work!

6. They Retain Their Cool Under Pressure

Ask the successful employee and he/she will tell you that not every day at work is going to be the same. So what remains a constant is their ability to remain calm under different situations, and especially when a crisis erupts. And this is a trait that most successful people consciously follow at work every day. A target could be missed, a project could fail and several unwanted exigencies could crop up – but it is only patience that will help you row the boat through turbulent waters!

7. They Reach Out

Some call it networking, others term it as a shrewd business tactic, but successful employees know that there’s nothing like proactive relationship building. Whether it is the boss, fellow colleagues, the vendor, the client or the guy at the reception – smart workers reach out and reach out with a smile.

Experts in the recruitment industry say that employees who understand the value of team spirit eventually shine as leaders as well. While their individual targets are well set, they also help and encourage their peers to push the limits.

8. They Welcome Criticism and Praise

Successful and smart workers accept both criticism and praise with an open mind and learn from the feedback they receive. This is a practice that they slowly nurture every day till it becomes a habit.

However the trick to welcoming criticism and praise lies in understanding that while both are essential, you need to distinguish what’s good for you. And successful employees have learnt that distinction too well – that the value of a harsh criticism is often better than an empty praise!

Managing time well and making full use of the hours is an everyday practice with successful employees.

Adopt these best practices of successful employees and scales new heights of success yourself.

By YeeKai Lai Posted in Career

When to Implement a Change Request Freeze

Business is always changing and the project solutions that are built must reflect this change as well. You do not want to deliver a solution that does not meet the business needs. That would not make sense. Freezing change requests is simply a technique to bring closure to the project.

The scope change freeze is an agreement with the sponsor to raise the threshold for approving scope change requests. During the freeze, for instance, it may be that all change requests need to be approved by the sponsor personally. If the sponsor understands the benefit of the change request, as well as the cost and impact to the project, she may still approve the request. However, even important changes may not get approved during the freeze. What may happen instead is that the change will be prioritized high as part of an enhancement request after the solution goes live.

How About Errors and Defects?

You may wonder whether you can still fix errors during a freeze. Remember that the freeze is on scope change requests. Of course, if you find problems or errors in the solution, they can be corrected. For example, let’s say you are building an IT system. It is possible that when you gathered requirements you misinterpreted a customer need, and that requires a change. This is not a change to the requirements, but the correcting of an interpretation error. This may be allowed. Similarly, during stress testing, you may find that your hardware is not powerful enough to take the load. This may require changes to the system configuration, or a change in how the transactions are processed. Again, this may be required under the freeze.

Hopefully your client is not adding new business requirements at the end of the project. These late changes may require substantial updates to the requirements, design and the solution itself. This not only requires more work. It requires the team to refocus in areas that they thought were already complete. Toward the end of the project the team just wants to be finished. Introducing change at this late stage can lead to sloppiness and in some cases to poor morale. This is very disruptive.

When you receive change requests toward the end of the project it is better to acknowledge the changes, but put them on hold. After the original project is finished, this work can be added to a punch list, or a short second phase to complete separately.

The important points about a requirements freeze is that you are recognizing that continued change requests will jeopardize your ability to deliver within your budget and deadline. You gain an agreement with your sponsor to allow the team to focus on a completing the project as-is. Critical change requests are still allowed, while less critical changes are deferred until after implementation.