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PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Our Plan for Your Plan

July 2006

A Publication of ILTA
Inside This Issue
3 The Enigma Called Project Management
by Melissa A. Tanner, PMP of Seyfarth Shaw LLP
"Project management" is often misunderstood and avoided. It's a process
guiding a project from cradle to grave, and a project manager possesses many
skills to bring the project to a successful completion. Change management is
key to the success of this process. Our author outlines the phases of a project,
and this article is a great primer for anyone wanting to learn more about PM.

4 Project Management Peer Group Survey


The results of ILTA’s first-ever project management survey are in! This inaugural
survey sets a benchmark from which we will be able to spot future trends. EDITOR’S NOTE
Project management is so much more
5 A Communication Plan Is Key to PM
by Julia C. Forbes of Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels LLP
than what is visible at first glance. Using
Good communication is the foundation of good lawyering, and a good the star above as an example, we see a
communication plan targeted to lawyers is the foundation of a good project in a team, tools and the pieces to complete the
law firm. Looking at how lawyers communicate, our author provides strategies project. What we don’t see is the
for crafting a communication plan to ensure a successful project life cycle. planning, tool selection, communication,
mentoring or even the “speed bumps” that
8 Scene One, Take One: SharePoint for PM got the project this far.
by Juliet Alters of O’Melveny and Myers LLP
SharePoint team sites are a valuable component of the project management Our authors offer their expertise in
toolkit at our author's firm. She likens the art of PM to that of directing a movie, “star-building” with tips, techniques and
and you get a view of their successes from the director's chair. wisdom ranging from effectively
communicating with the PM team and
10 Exclusion Lists Control Your Projects
by Patrick Byron of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP
stakeholders, to balancing processes and
Knowing what will not occur during a project can be as just as important as technology in a project portfolio
knowing what will. Defining and maintaining exclusions ultimately gives project management implementation. Our
managers more time to ensure successful conclusion to a project. Managing the gratitude goes to them.
expectations of your stakeholders is part art, part science; and our author raises
our skill level in both camps. In addition, we’re very excited to offer the
results of ILTA’s first-ever project
11 Starting a PPM Initiative management survey, and we extend our
by Brad Robbins and Kiron Bondale of Solution Q Inc. thanks to all who participated.
It's the "chicken or egg" conundrum in the PM world — should we plan our
processes or our technology first? There are advantages and disadvantages to Ken Hansen, Editor
both approaches, and our authors offer a more balanced view that parallel
implementations can serve a firm best. The PMO (Project Management Office) in
one firm sought to establish the necessary tools, processes, risk and resource
management of IT projects. Their case study is part of this article.
ABOUT ILTA
15 “Soft” Skills for Project Managers Providing technology solutions to law firms and legal
by Bruce Nicholls of Bryan Cave, LLP
departments gets more complex every day. Connecting
A successful project manager recognizes the need for honing his/her soft skills
with your peers to exchange ideas with those who have
and becoming a more effective listener, communicator and mentor. This article
provides a very good overview of the types of training and resources that your PM “been there done that” has never been more valuable.
leaders can utilize, all focused on building strong project teams to ensure
successful project completion. For nearly three decades, the International Legal
Technology Association has led the way in sharing
knowledge and experience for those faced with
Statement of Purpose: ILTA is the premier peer challenges in their firms and legal departments. ILTA
members come from firms of all sizes and all areas of
networking organization providing information resources to
practice, all sharing a common need to have access to
members in order to make technology work for the legal the latest information about products and support
profession. services that impact the legal profession.
2 :: July 2006
by Melissa A. Tanner, PMP of Seyfarth Shaw LLP

The Enigma Called Project Management


The goals of this phase are to gain everyone’s approval of the
Project management (PM) is an enigma to most organizations, with deliverables, delivery dates and responsible parties. This phase is where
many believing it to be a tool with which projects are managed. the project team, not just the project manager, will collaborate to:
Similarly, there is a misconception that a project manager is a task
master. Project management is a process guiding a project from cradle Determine stakeholders and team members.
to grave, and a project manager possesses many skills to bring the Create a list of all the tasks and work to be performed (using work
project to a successful completion. breakdown structure or other method).

All projects start with an idea or a problem that needs to be solved. It’s Determine milestones.
an art to turn an idea into reality or resolve that problem on time,
Define the roles and responsibilities.
within budget and using available resources. That art is project
management, and the project manager is its curator. Create a detailed schedule or work plan, including dates,
dependencies and resource assignments.
Role of the Project Manager
The project manager plays a key role in a project. While one of his/her Define the budget, including costs for software, hardware and services.
roles is most certainly managing tasks, a project manager must also be Determine risks and the plans to mitigate them.
a leader, coach, organizer, motivator, negotiator, planner and conflict
resolver, to name a few. A great project manager is an active listener, Define the communications plan.
delegator and one who gives recognition where recognition is due.
It is extremely important that all project team members buy into the plan
and believe that they can achieve the goal. If they do not, the project
Project Management Process will not be successful. Therefore, once the planning meetings have
The process varies from organization to organization, but most share
occurred, all planning information must be documented and reviewed
the following phases: initiating, planning, executing, controlling and
with the project team members in order to gain their approval. The
closing.1 Without these phases there would be no clear road map for
plans should then be reviewed and approved by the project sponsor and
the project team to follow and no way to know if the project is on
other stakeholders.
course. The three key phases, planning, executing and controlling are
examined in this article.
Executing the Project. The primary goal of this phase is to coordinate
the resources in order to carry out the plan. Key to this phase is
Planning the Project. This phase is probably the most important. We
developing the team. Team building is critical to the success of the
begin with assumptions that a cost benefit analysis or feasibility study
project and should be an ongoing activity.
was conducted, and a project charter was defined and approved.

Project Management :: 3
This phase is where: Endnote
1
These five phases align with the Project Management Institutes (PMI) project
Quotes and proposals will be obtained, if needed
management processes (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and
Contractor and vendor relationships will be managed controlling and closing) as defined in the Project Management Body of
Knowledge (PMBOK) 3rd Edition (ANSI/PMI 99-001-2004) page 23.
Controlling the Project. The goals of this phase are to monitor and
control the project by tracking performance, taking corrective actions
Recommended Reading from the Author
and keeping the team informed. Monitoring and controlling are not just
Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) 3rd Edition (ANSI/PMI
practical theories; both play an essential part in a leader’s ability to
99-001-2004), by Project Management Institutes (PMI)
make sound business decisions. Information on the project is
periodically gathered, and the plan is updated. This updated
Principles of Project Management, by Project Management Institutes (PMI)
information should be utilized to facilitate the decision-making phase,
especially if corrective actions are required.
Project Management, by Gary R. Heerkens
Change management must begin at
Project Management for Dummies, by Stanley E. Portney, PMP
the top level and filter downward.
A status report document, schedule and other project documents should
be updated periodically and distributed to the project team, project
sponsor, key stakeholders and other executive management. These
Project Management Survey Results
documents provide information on the accomplishments, goals and any Project management has been rapidly growing in the
delays associated with the project, and they report next steps. legal community, and the number of certified
Change Management professional project managers has been growing as well.
Implementing a project management process takes patience and We didn’t know how much or how rapid this growth was
flexibility. There will be resistance to change within the organization.
until we got the results of ILTA’s first-ever survey on
A change management process is needed to execute a plan effectively.
Change management must begin at the top level and filter downward. project management. The members of the ILTA Project
The project managers should be change leaders. Management Peer Group Steering Committee were all
Does Technology Offer Assistance? surprised, pleasantly surprised. 155 entities
An organization must understand project management and have the participated in the survey. This was a terrific response,
processes in place before implementing a PM tool. The tool (e.g., Gantt
charts, resource management, task management, etc.) aids the project
and thanks to all who participated!
team, it does not manage the project. The tool is only as good as the
processes behind it; and without a clear understanding of this concept, This survey has two major values. It offers background
many projects are doomed to failure.
on what firms and law departments know about project
Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan management (what they are doing and what tools and
If your organization is ready to implement a PM practice or if your
current practice needs to be reviewed, keep these thoughts in mind: processes they’re finding most useful and acceptable).
Process is key: No tool will manage projects by itself.
The questions can be used as a project management
checklist to determine an organization’s maturity level
Education, education, education: Educate the organization on
project management. and what steps should be taken.
Change management: Get buy-in and support from upper
management. Our thanks to Kathy Boden-Benson and Conrad Ekkens
Start small: Focus on important issues. for designing a great tool.
If these four key items are addressed, your organization should be able
to turn project management from an enigma into a reality. To view the results of the survey, go to
www.iltanet.org/pg/pmsurvey.pdf.

4 :: July 2006
by Julia C. Forbes of Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels LLP

A Communication Plan Is Key to PM


Why Projects Fail
A project manager should prepare a well thought-out, effective and Only 28 percent of technology projects are delivered “as planned.”1 The
bulletproof communication plan as part of a successful project plan. larger the project, the greater the likelihood of failure (think Denver
Good communication is the foundation of good lawyering, and a good airport baggage handling system). The following studies reveal
communication plan targeted to lawyers is the foundation of a good precisely how important communication is in a project.
project in a law firm.
In 1998, BULL (a French computer manufacturer and systems
Learning and Applying Communication Skills integrator) requested Spikes Cavell (an independent research company)
Two of the primary skills taught in the first year of law school are to conduct a survey in the U.K. to identify the major causes of IT project
problem solving and writing. While the “problem solving” part of a failure. Poor communications were blamed 40 percent of the time, with
project is centered around quality, procurement, cost, scheduling and more than half of those indicating that a breakdown in communications
risk, all the processes together rely upon writing skills and ultimately a was the culprit. The breakdowns occurred in all areas and among all
communication plan to keep the stakeholders (usually lawyers) groups associated with the project.
informed. It would stand to reason that lawyers would respond quite
favorably to a good communication plan. Informed stakeholders make The KPMG Canada Survey, conducted in 1997 concluded that “poor
fewer demands on project team members, providing better utilization of project planning” and, more specifically, the quality of the
time and other resources. With a successful conclusion to a project, “communication plan” was the reason for project failure.2
budgets for future projects are more likely to be approved.
The CHAOS Report in 1995 identified “incomplete requirements and
Additionally, lawyers learn to use the FIRAC (Facts/Issues/Rules/ lack of user involvement” as the top reasons for project failure.
Analysis/Conclusion) approach to practicing law. Therefore, a Involving users is an essential element of proper communication. The
communication plan should include these five points as much as role of an IT or project manager centers around good communication.
possible to increase the odds of success. You’d think we would have a higher project success rate.

Now consider what is at the core of practicing law. For the Study Primary Failure Other Causes
transactional legal practice, it is document drafting. For all legal No clear statement of
CHAOS Report Lack of user involvement
practices, particularly litigation, it is the ability to present or argue requirements
using written and oral skills. Lawyers who are collaborating with Poor communications
outside counsel, recruiting new lawyers or bringing in clients, must Bull Survey Lack of planning
between relevant parties
alter their content and style for their specific audiences. The product Poor articulation of user
lawyers sell is expertise, billed in six-minute increments. The validity KPMG Poor project planning
requirements
and accuracy of all communications is paramount for them, and it
would be reasonable that they would expect the same of staff,
particularly project managers.

Project Management :: 5
Constructing the Plan there may be some special considerations such as regulatory
A communication plan is one of the most important elements in a requirements that must involve the lawyers or elevated account
project plan. Techrepublic.com proclaims, “Communication plans are permissions to monitor cost overruns or missed deadlines that may,
key to project success”3 in an article authored by Rick Freedman. To perhaps, impact a trial or a client need.
that end, a project manager is held to a higher standard.
Communication planning has constraints and assumptions that impact
When putting a communication plan in place, the process is dynamic the outcome of the project. For example:
and involves all members of a project. The Can the type of technology in place realistically work within the
all goal is to understand the expectations from the project sponsors and project timeline?
clients and effectively communicate these expectations to all members
of the project team. The team needs to be directed to apply the tools Should time zones be a consideration for multi-office firms?
and techniques, skills and knowledge to complete the project work. If a deadline is missed, will there be fines, loss of clients or
Feedback on progress from the project team must be then translated for damage to attorneys’ reputations?
the lawyers. Lawyers generally have expectations surrounding project
scope, cost, quality and time. Balancing Frequency and Format
The frequency and format of the communications should occur based on
The communication plan must live through the planning, executing, the needs of the lawyers and the culture of the firm (most lawyers don’t
controlling and closing processes of any given project. While appreciate a “drive-by” unless the information is completely relevant to
communication occurs during the entire project, the communication their role or stake in the project). The Project Management Book of
plan is a “formal, defined communications management process that is Knowledge (PMBOK) suggests that those actually working on the project
performed as part of certain process groups,”4 and includes the should provide updates on a daily to weekly basis. Stakeholders usually
frequency and format of communications, information distribution, benefit from weekly to monthly communications, largely dependent on
performance reporting and administrative closure. the duration of the project. Also, beware of “over-dependence” on
electronic communications6 such as phone and e-mail. Because of the
Know Your Audience dynamic and unique characteristics of law practice, memos and
The first part of constructing a communication plan is to ensure the meetings are appropriate for certain types of situations. In fact, lawyers
information and communications needs of the lawyers are clearly tend to respond to hard copy communications since that is a tool often
understood. If possible, request a formal “liaison,” preferably a lawyer used in their practice. Those situations should be clearly spelled out in
who has been an IT advocate in the past, perhaps a third- or forth-year the communication plan. Those members of the project responsible for
associate to be a go-between. This liaison provides the project communicating with the lawyers (usually the PM and possibly the liaison
manager information about the lawyers’ communications needs and discussed above) may need to step outside of their comfort zone when it
format. This part of the project is a facilitating process of planning comes to this. Reliance on a handheld device is fine for quick,
and is NOT optional. It occurs often and as needed over the life of a applicable updates, but face-to-face interaction should be used when
project. The communication plan is written and includes: the information is more immediate, contentious or positive.
A method and means for collecting and storing data (project archive) The information distribution portion of the communication plan should
A definition of information allocation and methodologies define the requirements for the staff and lawyers in terms of what
needs to be communicated, when and in what format. The data that
The format, content and amount of information that align with the should be contributed and considered are work results including status,
firm’s culture (project charter and scope) quality measures, schedule and cost and any other details the lawyers
may have requested. Other information that should be considered
A schedule of each type of communication to be produced (e.g.,
include feedback from those working on the project, information
when project meetings will be held)
received from the technology (reports, databases and PMIS) or vendors
Methods for accessing information at any given time (e.g., intranet, being used for the project and, of course, the status. These details can
public folder, extranet, etc.) be provided in formats discussed above and available in the
communication plan.
Methods for updating and refining the communication plan (done
through the project manager)5 At this point in the project, communication problems may become
apparent. Those problems might include retreating from the lawyers or
The inputs to project communication planning are documenting the
staff and under-communicating to them, not monitoring what
communications requirements of the stakeholders, assessing the
information is being distributed, not placing emphasis on bad news,
technology available to deliver the information and determining any
and keeping everyone on a “need-to-know” basis. Adhering to the
constraints and/or assumptions inherent to the project. It is critical to
communication plan can prevent or mitigate these bad habits.
know where lawyers fall in terms of responsibility and interest in the
project, what practices and departments are impacted, where the
All of the information gathered and distributed can be placed in a
stakeholders reside and any external communications that do (or don’t)
knowledge base or archived for future use, and it could be used in the
exist (i.e., does the firm have a public relations specialist responsible for
evaluations of the employees who worked on the project.
communication externally, such as the public and/or media). In addition,

6 :: July 2006
The Key to Good Reporting performance and/or quality management, nor would he or she invest in
The communication plan must also contain the objectives for a project without similar guarantees. So too, a written document
performance reporting. The PM needs to know the status of the project should be created for reference by both the project team and the
and how it relates to the baselines of cost, schedule, scope and quality, lawyers regarding the communication plan throughout the life of the
as well as to the expectations of the lawyers and staff. Depending on project. This document keeps the lawyers informed at a level they
the expectations, the process for performance reporting may involve understand, while the team focuses their efforts on the project plan.
Gantt charts to which lawyers respond quite positively to, as these When time is allotted for the communication plan and you’re told it’s
charts are frequently created and used as exhibits. If the finance/ unnecessary, remember you’re spending the lawyer’s money on
accounting department is involved, a trend analysis of cost or earned something IT will be held accountable for days, weeks or months to
value management system (EVMS) could be used. By measuring and come. Insist on a communication plan for every project involving
comparing planned value, earned value and actual cost and other lawyers.
measurable factors, the EVMS gives a cut-point view of the project
performance in relation to the schedule and cost. Depending on the Endnotes
1
values of these formulas, different strategic actions can be taken to Standish Group, CHAOS Report 2001, as quoted in the Defense Acquisition
solve problems and put the project back on schedule, budget or both. University (DAU) Deskbook, http://www.it-cortex.com/stat_failure_cause.htm.
Finance departments tend to want to be as fully informed as possible The Standish Report began in 1994 and is updated every 3-5 years. A new
regarding matters of cost, and communicating with them in a language edition was scheduled for release in Spring 2004.
2
they understand benefits everyone. KPMG Canada Survey (1997), and CHAOS Report (1995), all cited at
http://www.it-cortex.com/Stat_Failure_Cause.htm#The%20Bull%20Survey
Administrative Closure %20(1998).
3
A plan for administrative closure is required in the communication plan. http://techrepublic.com.com/5100-6333-1028635.html, by Rick Freedman.
4
Unfortunately, it is often seen as unnecessary. Frequently, lawyers have PMBOK
5
moved away from the project, the project has no further priority (or PMBOK
6
money), and administrative closure is not billable work for a lawyer, and PMBOK
they don’t understand the need for IT to carry it out.

When performing administrative closure, it is best to hand-deliver and


acquire a signed document from the managing partner or other
high-level stakeholder at the project’s completion. Lawyers use signed
documents in their practice all the time and will respect the desire to
get their consent or formalize their acceptance of the closure of the
project. This may lead to increased credibility and more consideration
at budget time when IT endeavors to take on new projects. When
obtaining the signed document, the communication plan should detail
the process of closure. At this point, postmortem audits can be
conducted, experience and lessons learned can be documented to a
knowledge base, and a white paper or other type of retrievable archive
can be created for future projects.

Get It in Writing
In any communication situation, there is a sender and receiver, and the
better each is able to understand their respective communication needs
(what they need to know, how much and how often) is vital. Since
lawyers are trained in problem solving and writing skills and practice
those skill throughout their careers, they hold other professional staff to
this same standard. Being held to this standard frequently helps hone
these skills, and these skills are needed to compose a good
communication plan. A successful communication plan involves
researching, studying and scripting the plan using information
distribution and performance reporting. Getting this in writing at the
beginning of the project and adhering to it throughout the project life
cycle will give the lawyers the consistency and formality they frequently
desire, while keeping the project team members informed.

The communication plan facilitates and is central to all other processes


of the project and must be mandatory. A lawyer wouldn’t invest in a
mutual fund without a written document describing risk, cost,

Project Management :: 7
by Juliet Alters of O’Melveny and Myers LLP

Scene One, Take One: SharePoint for PM


Our Storyboards
Being a long-time Southern California resident who is surrounded The business analysts who manage our enterprise application
by icons of the film industry — I drive by Universal Studios on my implementations leverage SharePoint team sites to facilitate
daily commute — I’m heavily influenced by all this “moviedom.” It’s transparency and promote knowledge sharing among project team
not a far stretch for me to liken the process of project management members. Through the use of the project team sites, we can see
to that of directing a movie. A good movie starts with a script that projects unfold in real time. When a project starts, the business
has a compelling and cogent storyline with a beginning, middle and analyst creates a project team site with a predefined template. As the
end. It then comes alive when good actors make the story believable project progresses through the different phases of the software life
and engaging. cycle, more and more information is posted to the site by project team
members. When a project is completed, the team site may be archived.
As a project manager, you are the director of your own movie. You need
to craft a cohesive project plan (script) which includes all of the Why did we choose SharePoint? We already had an existing investment
appropriate phases, starting with the initiation process and ending with in Microsoft technologies, and SharePoint is an existing component of
the closing process. Just like casting a movie, you also must carefully our Enterprise Agreement, so there was no additional cost to use it.
choose the project team members (actors) who can successfully execute Moreover, SharePoint team sites are workspaces that have essential
the plan, and you must be mindful of the other people who participate “out-of-the-box” functionality for easy collaboration including:
in your project, including sponsors, key stakeholders and end users.
Check-in/check-out of documents, allowing team members to make
Action! changes to documents without the possibility of having their
Those in the project management field are faced with the challenging changes overwritten
and persistent responsibilities of managing tasks, risks, costs and Version control of documents that are works in progress (but
people’s expectations. This is a lot of information that must be shared, SharePoint is not a replacement for a robust document
and to be successful, good communication is imperative. Much like the management system)
directors use bullhorns to communicate with their cast and crew,
project managers also need communication tools. Many organizations List maintenance with different filtering options, a feature that is
use e-mail for project information distribution, but this approach may very helpful for managing progress on action items
not be the most effective as it can be cumbersome for participants to
Quick and easy survey creation, offering a way to reach out to
keep current on the latest versions of key project communications.
gather and validate user requirements
While I won’t say we have found the Holy Grail of communication tools, I
will say using Microsoft SharePoint team sites has made it easier to User-defined alerts, allowing teams to subscribe to alerts so they
“direct” our projects. are notified when new content is posted to the team site

8 :: July 2006
Calendars for tracking project milestones, events, vacation with the appropriate levels of access set by a project team site
schedules of team members, etc. administrator can navigate to individual project sites for more details.
At the project portfolio management site, we plan on supporting
Discussion threads for managing conversations without clogging dashboard views for sponsors to see their own projects as well as how
e-mail inboxes their projects are doing vis-à-vis other enterprise projects. We will also
Application of security by owner/administrator of the team site to house here will be overall resource allocation information and indicators
restrict or expand access to users without IT intervention of where over/under allocations occurred. We believe these pieces of
information will help sponsors make well-informed decisions when
Each project team site becomes the one-stop shopping place for all major prioritizing projects for the firm in the event of resource conflicts.
artifacts related to a project. Using a team site eliminates unwieldy
e-mail threads that may not have included everyone and maintains one We also use the project portfolio management site to house general
version for the project team to reference. Additionally, having everything project management resources such as the Project Management
located in one repository makes traceability throughout a project’s life Institute’s tome, the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK),
cycle much easier to manage. For example, you can access the as well as our own lighter and more agile version tailored for project
requirements specification that ties into the application design management that I affectionately refer to as “PMBOK Lite.” Other
document, the test strategy and test cases without having to search resources include our software test methodology and links to our
through multiple e-mail archive folders and/or network drives. software quality assurance site.

Microsoft’s powerful search engine allows for ready access to Project portfolio management is, unfortunately, not an “out-of-the-box”
information. As easy as it is to launch a team site, it is just as easy to feature of SharePoint team sites. Currently, we are evaluating several
archive a project team site when the project is completed. But what portfolio management software vendors and third-party Web part
happens to the information housed in the archived site that may be a vendors, as well as keeping a watchful eye on Microsoft Office 2007
useful reference source? No worries. Any archived site is searchable in implementation of a lighter version of Microsoft Project. These all
the event you need to retrieve precedential materials. support (or plan to support) integration with SharePoint so they can fit
well into our current and future strategy.
Our All-Star Cast
We have been using SharePoint team sites as project artifact Previews of Coming Attractions
repositories and collaboration workspaces for over a year now, and we As we look to the future with Microsoft Office 2007, SharePoint becomes
have over 50 individual project sites to date. At the end of 2005, we a seamless component of the Office suite and will further facilitate how
realized we needed to bring these discrete team sites into a more people work. We recognize that SharePoint is not just an application
focused view, and we have started to build on the concept of a project but a technology platform foundational to Microsoft’s vision of the
portfolio management site that is intended to be the “home base” for technology architecture to support knowledge workers. By utilizing its
all project information. The existence of our project portfolio out-of-the box features for collaboration today, we are well-positioned to
management team site allows us to give a single link to project leverage future improvements. As Microsoft introduces more features,
stakeholders, sponsors and team members to gain access to the we are committed to exploring their usefulness in our project
projects in which they participate. From this top-level site, any user management toolkit. Watch for the sequel to this movie!

Project Management Peer Group


ILTA's Project Management Peer Group connects IT
professionals and legal staff in member organizations to
facilitate educational opportunities and networking
events. The group strives to provide webinars, white
papers and networking opportunities for its subscribers;
and its listserv facilitates discussion relevant to both
the technical and process-related needs of project
management members.

For more information, please contact Sally Hatchett, Vice


President of ILTA’s Project Management Peer Group, at
sally.hatchett@bingham.com.

Project Management :: 9
Exclusion Lists Control Your Projects
by Patrick Byron of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP
With a well-defined exclusion list, the project manager has a strong
Project managers are consistently confronted with change requests argument to provide the change requestor. It demonstrates that early
from various stakeholders or people outside a given project. The in the project, the project team had considered the proposed change
stakeholders feel the new ideas and enhancements need to be request and determined it would not work due to specific conditions
incorporated and must be delivered. Some of these ideas and and valid arguments.
enhancements may have already been considered early in the project
planning and not included for any number of reasons. Documenting Defining the Exclusion List
these ideas and the reasons for their rejection during the planning The project sponsor is the best person to start the exclusion list. The
phase in an exclusion list allows the project manager to spend less project sponsor has a set of expectations, a timeline in mind for the
time on project delays and budget overruns and more time on moving project completion and a good understanding of what the project must
the project forward. and must not include. After gathering information from the project
sponsor, the exclusion list can be developed by working with:
Often the exclusion or “out of scope” list is overshadowed by the scope
definition. However, these two sections of the project definition each The project team: If a team is already assigned to the project, it is
have important purposes and distinct impacts on the project. to the project manager’s benefit to meet and confirm the project
scope and how they understand it. Brainstorming will most likely
The Project Scope allow the project manager to develop project scope and items that
The scope definition is created so all stakeholders have the same goals should be excluded from the project.
for the project. It should be the result of an agreement between the The technical leads in the organization: They are working on
project team and the stakeholders of what must be completed for the initiatives that may resolve some of the project’s goals. They could
project to succeed and meet the stakeholders’ expectations. The project also give the project manager technical arguments regarding why
scope helps the project manager keep everything on track. Typically, certain aspects of the scope may not be realistic.
however, the project scope does not give the project manager enough
influence when facing scope change requests. By definition, the project The vendor: The vendor has the expertise. The vendor knows how
scope explains what must be done but does not explain what cannot be other clients approached the project and why other projects were
done, nor does it include what was considered and discarded during the delayed or went over budget. The vendor can establish time and
project initiation phase. cost metrics based on experience that would support an argument
for exclusion or inclusion of an item within the project scope.
Facing the Changes Other project managers: These individuals may have useful
Was an idea or proposed change considered and discarded when the
insight as they may have worked on similar projects in the past.
project was originally started? Throughout the project, new ideas and
new directions arise and result in requests for scope changes that must Once information has been collected from these various sources, the
be analyzed by the project manager and approved or disapproved by the project manager can start building the exclusion list. It is preferable to
stakeholders, the customer and possibly the change control board. If meet with the project sponsor and the project team to finalize both the
the proposed change isn’t feasible, the pressure is on the project scope and the list of exclusions.
manager to prove this because any change may be positively perceived
by the stakeholders as new, innovative and with the potential of having Documenting the Exclusion List
great benefits. And while the project manager could attempt to use the Although referred to simply as the “exclusion list,” it is critical for the
information detailed in the scope document to turn down the request, project manager to document not only the exclusions, but also the
this will usually be insufficient. With the support of an exclusion list, reasons for the exclusions. The reasons could include a time
the project manager can show that the change is not an innovative idea constraint, a budget constraint, a lack of expertise within the
and its potential was already measured and proven unnecessary. organization, a resource constraint, insufficient ROI, etc. Keeping track
of the reason for the exclusion is just as important as the exclusion
The Project Exclusion List itself and will bring more credibility to the exclusion list when a request
The exclusion list is the project manager’s primary ally in challenging a for a change is received. And just as the project schedule and the risk
scope change. It tells the change requestor that during the project management plan continue to evolve, the exclusion list should be a
initiation phase, the project team: dynamic list that evolves with the project.
Thought about the proposed idea
Exclusion List Inclusion
Established reasons why the idea should not be included in the project Knowing what will not occur during a project can be as just as
important as knowing what will. Defining and maintaining exclusions
Agreed the idea would not be implemented ultimately gives project managers more time to ensure successful
conclusion to a project.

10 :: July 2006
by Brad Robbins and Kiron D. Bondale, PMP of Solution Q Inc.

Starting a PPM Initiative


PPM initiatives succeed best when changes are introduced
Pasroject portfolio management (PPM) has gained popularity in law firms
gradually. This is due to the significant individual behavior
changes required. As the processes built into most technology
an approach to ensure engagement in the right types of projects and
solutions tend to expect a high degree of PPM maturity, introducing
proper management of those projects. Managing a limited pool of
technology first without making adequate process decisions can
resources in the demanding law firm environment is also of utmost
force your company to “run before you can walk.”
importance. And there’s a critical first step in a PPM initiative: It is
imperative to determine if the project should begin with establishing Processes First
processes or implementing technology. Process engineering proponents will say that implementing a technology
solution only makes a broken process break faster. Companies invest
Technology First significant effort in working through governance decisions, establishing
Firms with little experience in PPM often assume the processes PPM standards and developing processes. However, once they
supporting PPM are generic and they can adopt “out-of-the-box” implement the modified processes, most firms using this approach
processes as part of their technology solution implementation. encounter the following challenges:

It’s an easy assumption. As an example, companies implementing Significant effort is spent in developing and maintaining
enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems were plagued by a common homegrown templates, systems and reports.
mistake; they attempted to customize the systems to fit their processes Significant effort has to be spent on training and ongoing quality
only to learn it was less costly and more effective to adopt processes activities to ensure that the homegrown tools are used as expected.
that were “hard-wired” into the systems.
Significant effort is spent by project managers, analysts and
And the assumption can get reinforced during the technology selection executives in gathering, maintaining, reporting and accessing
process, as most PPM solutions do provide sample roles, business rules portfolio information.
and workflows. However, the intent for these “built-in” processes is to
Information tends to be “stale” or obsolete because of the effort
be a starting point for customization, not the final state.
and time required to collect and maintain it.
Implementing a PPM technology solution without adequate It is difficult, if not impossible, to roll information up from different
supporting processes will rarely provide the expected benefits for the levels of reporting (work package, project, program, portfolio).
following reasons:
Data-intensive functions such as time or resource allocation
PPM processes such as the project intake and portfolio evaluation tracking cannot be done without developing relational database-
processes as well as supporting processes such as resource based systems.
management are built on standards and governance decisions that
are very organization-specific. If those decisions are not made in One company with an IT staff of just over 100 had a business analyst
advance of a technology implementation, the implementation will spending a minimum of five days each month to compile and report on
be too generic and have to be significantly modified at a later date. less than 10 metrics for their portfolio. In addition, the quality of these
Additionally, this lack of fit with the organization will increase the metrics was suspect given the nature of the homegrown tools used to
likelihood of noncompliance with the processes. support their PPM processes.

Project Management :: 11
The Best of Both Approaches finally, ensure you have BOTH the appropriate processes and tools in
While there are some PPM governance decisions that need to be made place to successfully achieve your objectives.
before you can benefit from a commercially-available technology
solution, there are significant advantages that can be gained by a Charting a Smooth Course
parallel implementation. By appropriately balancing the implementation of process and
technology, and by managing your PPM and PMO initiatives as strategic
The following implementation approach combines the benefits of both the projects, you will increase your odds for success.
technology and process approaches while addressing their drawbacks:
However, despite having good processes and technology, many firms
1. Secure executive commitment and sponsorship for the PPM initiative. still fail to achieve the full benefits of PPM. This is usually due to the
most critical constraint on a business — people.
2. Develop and get approval on governance standards (e.g., what will
be in the portfolio, what is a project, who will evaluate the portfolio, Unless management and staff understand and buy-in to the objectives
what key metrics will be captured and reviewed). for the initiative, receive appropriate training and are empowered and
motivated to perform their roles, benefits realized from a PPM initiative
3. Develop an initial, simple set of processes for project intake and
will be marginal.
portfolio evaluation. Depending on whether your firm staffs
projects internally or not, you will likely need to develop simple Successfully charting and navigating a PPM implementation provides
processes for resource management. This process work should your firm with a significant opportunity both in terms of project success
include definition of roles, procedures and training materials. and value as well as employee satisfaction.
4. Evaluate, procure and install a PPM technology solution and
configure it with your defined standards and processes. PPM and PMO Implementation Case Study
With a firm-approved three-year strategic project plan, Powell Goldstein
5. Roll out the processes, procedures and technology concurrently. LLP in Atlanta, Georgia, was faced with the challenge of how to deliver
Use the technology as a platform to train staff on the procedures. and manage all of the strategic technology project initiatives within the
plan. This challenge was further impacted by not having a consistent
6. Measure and tune the performance of the processes and technology
project management framework, the lack of central project reporting,
on an ongoing basis.
inefficient resource management and inconsistent project quality
7. Once the firm has fully absorbed these changes, define the next set methodology.
of processes or objectives and repeat steps 3-6, adding the
processes to the chosen technology platform. The firm identified a project management office (PMO) as one of the
strategic projects of the plan and approved the development and
Implementing a Project Management Office implementation of a PMO. The primary objective of the PMO was to
As the preceding section indicates, successfully introducing PPM practices establish the necessary tools, processes, risk and resource management
requires solid planning and a commitment of sponsorship and effort. of all information technology projects moving forward. One of the key
tools in this success was a project portfolio management (PPM) solution
A number of law firms are choosing to establish a project management to ensure a centralized project repository.
office (PMO) as one means of focusing this effort. In a survey of 30 law
firms with sizes ranging from 130 to 3,000 attorneys, approximately 50 Powell Goldstein achieved the following benefits from their implementation:
percent had implemented a PMO.
A centralized project portfolio management framework
As with PPM, there are a number of governance decisions that need to Project alignment with firm objectives
be made when you set up a PMO. Some of these key decisions include:
A consistent project management framework
Who is the executive sponsor?
Improved project reporting
What formal authority will the PMO possess?
Automated project e-mail notifications, reduced meetings and
What is the scope of services provided by the PMO? Is it intended
increased project efficiency
to report on project status, be a center of excellence or staff PM
resources? E-learning for project managers, staff and vendors
What is the organization structure of the PMO? Better resource management
Is there a defined career path for roles within it? Improved project quality
Given the criticality of the PMO, firms should treat the PMO Challenges
implementation as a strategic project. Apply the same disciplined The challenges faced by the firm that motivated this initiative included:
project management practices to the implementation, and give it the
same corporate visibility you would to any other strategic project. And Inconsistent Project Management Framework: There was no
consistent methodology among internal and vendor-led projects.

12 :: July 2006
Without a consistent process and framework, tracking project status No two projects were managed in quite the same way. However, moving
was very difficult. Before the addition of the strategic projects to a single project portfolio management framework, all projects now
approved by the firm’s technology committee, there were already a large follow the same set of rules for managing quality, cost and scheduling.
number of “in-progress” projects and even more were planned for the
Vendor/ Quality Cost Schedule
next fiscal year. Staff

Project Reporting: Projects were essentially silos of information. Since


there was not a centralized project repository, managers were unable to Vendor 1
get the status of all projects in a single place. This also contributed to
Method 1 Method 1 Method 1
the over-allocation of personnel, project cost and resources as project
schedules were not shared among projects. Vendor 2

Resource Management: Personnel resources had to manage their own


ITS Staff
tasks across multiple projects. There was no central location in which
they could have access to report all of their assigned project tasks. It
was evident that managers could greatly improve the efficiency of their
resource allocation with a centralized tool. The benefits achieved of implementing a PMO using a PPM solution
include the following:
Project Quality: Projects were managed with various methods,
milestones and risk management techniques. The inconsistency of Consistent Project Management Framework: All projects now benefit
application of these techniques had made it difficult to ensure the from a centralized project portfolio management tool as part of the
consistent delivery of quality among all projects. overall new framework. This consistent use of a single project
management framework has greatly helped the ITS department in the
Approach following ways:
In mid-2005, the Powell Goldstein information technology services (ITS)
Improved process and planning for all new internal projects
department and Technology Committee worked with a strategic
information management solution provider to develop a three-year Improved management of vendor-led projects
strategic plan which included deployment of a new PMO as one of the
firm strategic initiatives. Understanding of project status by ITS and helpdesk staff not
directly involved in specific projects
In late 2005, the ITS department partnered with a technology consulting Quick determination of a project’s status as major project
firm to help realize their PMO strategy. Working together, they developed milestones are consistent across projects
the core PMO structure, processes, tools and training to ensure a smooth
implementation and adoption of a world-class project management Automated Project E-Mail Notifications: Leveraging automated
framework. This framework raised the bar on expectations, quality and custom e-mail notifications based on the project portfolio has allowed
project performance across the ITS organization. One of the essential project teams to spend less time in meetings and stay more up to date
tools required was configuration and deployment of a PPM solution to with their projects in the following ways:
ensure a centralized project repository. Less time is spent directly accessing the project portfolio software
for project tasks.
This PMO/PPM framework was essential in assisting the firm to ensure
achievement of objectives for cost, quality and scheduling of major Courtesy e-mail notifications for project tasks target dates that are
technology initiatives. either past due or due by close of business.
Weekly project organizer e-mail notifications are sent to project
Benefits
team members to help them plan their week.
Before implementation of a PPM solution, the project management
process consisted of vendors and staff using their own methods for Improved Project Reporting: Using a single PPM tool and framework
managing quality, cost and schedules. greatly improved project reporting capabilities in the following ways:
Vendor/ Quality Cost Schedule Resource utilization across projects is more visible.
Staff

Simplified project status and summary information is easily


Method 1 Method 1 Method 1
available to ITS management and executive committees from one
Vendor 1 centralized repository.
Method 2 Method 2 Method 2
Project resources are now able to quickly determine their tasks
Vendor 2 across all projects in which they are involved.
Method 3 Method 3 Method 3
Project costs incurred to date can be evaluated in real time.
ITS Staff

Project Management :: 13
Better Resource Management: ITS resources experienced improved
time management and allocation using a single framework and tool by
having a single location to obtain a list of all tasks across all projects.
Also, ITS management can better allocate resources by eliminating the
over-allocation of a single resource across two or more projects.

Improved Project Quality: Now, as projects are performed with the


same framework and tools, project quality was improved because:
Personnel are not as over-allocated and can direct their attention
more fully to the current project tasks.
A consistent framework across projects ensures important steps
and milestones are not overlooked or missed.
Consistent risk management assists ITS management to better
understand the challenges that all of their projects face.

Lessons Learned
During the establishment of the PMO and the implementation of the
PPM solution, the following lessons were learned:
Support and buy-in from your technology and executive committees
are critical to a successful PPM/PMO initiative.
Implementing a project management framework is a necessity in
preparation for future technology driven projects to ensure
consistency.
Even with a successful PMO, resource management has to be one of
your top priorities moving forward to ensure successful project
deployments.
You need to know your departmental staff and what roles they will
serve on project teams.
Make ongoing e-learning available to project managers, staff and
vendors to ensure project methodologies and processes are being
enforced.
Clear communications to vendors before project kickoff ensures that
expectations regarding your project management methodology and
processes are clearly understood.
To achieve early buy-in and support of the PMO from your
employees, conduct focus and pilot groups before deployment of
your project management framework.
This initiative was primarily led by Jamie Usher, CIO and Rod Dreyer,
Project Management Office, ITS at Powell Goldstein.

14 :: July 2006
by Bruce Nicholls of Bryan Cave, LLP

“Soft” Skills for Project Managers


possess. Good communication was found to be the cornerstone of
Soft skills: A set of skills that influence how we interact with each successful projects, and organizational skills were needed to provide a
other. It includes such abilities as effective communication, creativity, working structure that could support the various functions of the project.
analytical thinking, diplomacy, flexibility, change-readiness and
problem solving, leadership, team building and listening skills. The The conclusion from these reports was that to be a successful project
goal of soft skill training is to give students the opportunity to learn manager you need to:
and practice new patterns of behavior and in so doing, to enhance
human relations. Have experience and use a project management methodology
U.S. Air Force - National Security Personnel System effectively
Know your business and its objectives
The use of the word “soft” is deceptive. These skills are usually
acquired through experience and practice. “Hard” skills are easier to Have good communication and interpersonal skills
learn and follow, but the greatest payback for a project manager will be
These skills are highlighted in the Guide to the Project Management
in learning and putting into practice the soft skills. A project manager
Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) Third Edition in Section 1.5, Areas of
needs to gain the trust of the people influenced by the project, and this
Expertise. This section details the need of the project manager and
trust is achieved through the use of soft skills.
team to have knowledge and skills outside of the specialized tools and
techniques used in managing projects. To be an effective team and
Gartner published a research document in 1999 titled What Skills Will
project manager, you must use and understand the knowledge and
Characterize Top Project Managers? The document concluded it was not
skills from at least five areas of expertise:
enough for a project manager to have a good project management
methodology and technical expertise. In order to improve project Project management body of knowledge
outcomes, the project manager had to have knowledge related to the
Application area knowledge, standards and regulations
business and enterprise culture together with leadership and
interpersonal skills. Project environment understanding

Project Managers Increase Success General management knowledge and skills


The skills needed by a successful software project manager have been Interpersonal skills
studied by the Standish Group and documented in their annual CHAOS
reports. In the 2001 report, the question was asked: “Does a project The guide specifically mentions soft skills relating to team development:
manager increase success?” The report concluded that a project “Interpersonal Skills (Section 1.5.5), sometimes known as ‘soft skills,’
manager did increase the chance of success, but there were more skills are particularly important to team development. By understanding the
required than just project management skills. Three of the skills sentiments of project team members, anticipating their actions,
highlighted were good business, organization and communication skills. acknowledging their concerns and following up on their issues, the
Business skills were the most important asset a project manager can project management team can greatly reduce problems and increase

Project Management :: 15
cooperation. Skills such as empathy, influence, creativity and group people and maps the 16 MBTI personality types into eight
facilitation are valuable assets when managing the project team.” carefully-defined team roles. Simplified views of these roles are:
Sculptors — Get things done now
Throughout the guide, it is assumed that these skills, tools and
techniques are used, in PMBOK terminology, “to perform the project.” Curators — Clarify ideas and understanding

A project is rarely performed by a lone project manager. Other members Explorers — Look for new ways
of the organization are usually co-opted/assigned to work on the Innovators — Create new ideas and perspectives
project. These members must then be managed and built into a team
to get maximum benefit. If the project manager has a choice of Conductors — Organize
members, the techniques below can be used as the basis for selection.
Scientists — Explain how and why
Enhancing Team-Building Soft Skills Coaches — Harmonize people
The project manager must first get to know the team members as
individuals. This includes assessing team members for their preferred Crusaders — Evangelize
thinking and personality style. These psychological techniques give the project manager a
framework that can be useful in finding out how best to interact and
The formalized HR approach for this is determining their Myers-Briggs manage the team.
Type Indicator usually referred to as MBTI. The purpose of the MBTI
personality inventory is to describe and make understandable/useful To be able to motivate and understand team members, the project
Jung’s theory of personality types. The MBTI questionnaire must be manager needs to know the personal goals of the individual. A team
given by a qualified administrator after which one of 16 major member could be a perfectionist, someone who is purely motivated by
personality types is assigned to the examinee. money or someone who values family life. A project manager must
know what influences the team member to be able to align the goals of
The 16 major personality types are made out of four separate the team to the goals of the project. If someone values family life and
dichotomies. It is assumed an individual has a preference toward one they are forced to work on the project every weekend for an extended
of each pair of opposites. The four dichotomies are: period, this person’s productivity, quality or respect may suffer unless
Extraversion vs. Introversion the project manager takes action. There are numerous theories on the
link between motivation and performance, and some of the well-known
Sensing vs. Intuition ones include:
Thinking vs. Feeling Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Judging vs. Perceiving Douglas McGregor’s Theory X Theory Y
As an example, someone who is classed as an INTP (Introvert, Intuition, Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory of Work Motivation
Thinking and Perception) is seen as an independent problem solver.
They excel at analyzing ideas and situations. They work best alone and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
can be seen as quiet and reserved. They find it difficult to work on The next stage is to get to know the goals, strengths and weaknesses of
routine tasks, preferring to focus on complex problems. They prize the individual team member. This is achieved through listening (a
precision in communication and dislike redundancy or stating the technique described later), face-to-face and informal meetings, SWOT
obvious. If they are not appreciated they can become cynical and (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis and
negative critics. creating a skills matrix/inventory.


The major problems of our work are not so much
technological as sociological in nature.

Peopleware — Productive Projects and Teams
A SWOT analysis and skills matrix/inventory can be drawn up at the start
of a project. The SWOT analysis will give a better understanding of the
wider project environment together with the risks. The skills matrix/
inventory provides an insight into which team member would be better
by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister
suited to a particular role. These analyses also include soft skills as well
A questionnaire that gives similar results to the MBTI is known as the as technical and managerial skills. If a team member has good written
Keirsey Temperament Sorter. This is freely available in a book titled communication or negotiation skills over and above a technical skill, they
Please Understand Me by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates. The may be called upon more readily to interact with a supplier than a team
questionnaire consists of 70 questions with two possible answers and member who only has the technical competence. If these skills are
can be completed in less than half an hour. The answers are then lacking internally, then the project manager has the option to develop the
analyzed for patterns that match the 16 major personality types. team with focused training and mentoring. If this training is not an
option, and an outside hire or consultant with the appropriate skills
Another questionnaire that can be given is the Management Team Roles cannot be used, a risk to the project exists. The project manager also
Indicator or MTR-i. This is based on an Internet study of over 20,000 needs to evaluate how much handholding or supervision will be required.
Some team members need more direction and support than others.

16 :: July 2006
Teams are increasingly becoming multinational. Misunderstandings or Enhancing Your Communication Skills
misinterpretations can occur if the project manager is not sensitive to the Many of the soft skills utilized by a project manager rely on
cultural diversity of the team. This is especially true of language and communication. A project manager must communicate effectively,
work ethics. Project managers need to harness and exploit the cultural clearly and without ambiguity in order to influence team members and
differences if they are to deliver multinational projects successfully. stakeholders. The language and style of delivery, whether spoken or
written, needs to be tailored to the recipient. Once the communication
Chapter 9 of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge is sent, confirmation of its delivery is required and feedback is
(PMBOK Guide) Third Edition provides an overview of these processes requested to ensure it is understood. There are models on
and includes a section on project team development (9.3). The section communication such as The Johari Window, Shannon and Weaver’s
aims to improve the competency and interaction of team members to transmission model and a basic model is provided in Chapter 10 of the
enhance the performance of the project. Objectives include: Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)
Improve skills of team members in order to increase their ability to Third Edition.
complete project activities
The language must be:
Improve feelings of trust and cohesiveness among team members
Clear and simple
in order to raise productivity through greater teamwork
Reflect the communication style of the recipient, be it auditory
Four Stages of Team Development (hearing), visual or kinesthetic (feeling)
During its lifetime, a team may go through four stages of development,
each increasing in productivity. A project manager must be aware of Understood by the recipient (e.g., business or technical)
the stage at which the team is working as each stage needs a different
approach to managing. These four stages were first described in 1965 Culturally sensitive
by Bruce W. Tuckman, a respected educational psychologist. He went In a format agreed in any contract or required by regulatory agencies
on to refine and develop the model with Mary Ann Jensen in 1977.
The delivery method must be:
The first stage of development is called “forming.” This starts when Appropriate for the information content
the team members come together. In this stage, team members work
individually trying to gain acceptance within the group. Conflict is Appropriate for the locality and technical capabilities
avoided, and the team members don’t integrate to any degree as they
only look at the tasks to be completed. Impressions on the other team Appropriate for the time scale agreed
members are also formulated. This stage requires the project manager Cost effective
to direct the team.
In a format agreed in any contract or required by regulatory
“Storming” is the second stage. In this stage the team members start agencies
to compete, and there is conflict within the team. This stage requires The content must be:
the project manager to coach the team.
In a format that can be read (i.e., don’t assume everyone has Visio)
The third stage is “norming.” In this stage, the team members start to
Tailored for the recipient (i.e., low or high detail)
work as a cohesive unit without leadership and power issues. Team
members start sharing information and ideas, and there is a sense of Emphasized or highlighted if action is required on important
team spirit. This stage requires the project manager to support the team. information

The most productive stage is “performing.” In this stage, the team Legal and noncontentious
members act as one for the good of the team. The team is flexible, and Relevant and accurate
team members adapt to the needs of the team. Team members have a
high commitment and trust each other. They may also be friends. Worded to request feedback if needed
Morale is high, and the team members are loyal and focused on the
In a format agreed in any contract or required by regulatory
tasks at hand. This stage requires the project manager to delegate to
agencies
the team.

There is a fifth stage, “adjourning,” when the team is disbanded.

Obviously the most advantageous team for a project manager is one



We realized project management isn’t about charts, graphs,
reports and statistics — it’s about communication. It also
isn’t about a project manager sitting up high and
that is higher up the productivity ladder. To be able to utilize these
team techniques, a project manager must have a good understanding
broadcasting a project plan. It’s about everyone taking
of soft skills that are applicable personally. responsibility together to make the project work.

Getting Real by 37signals

Project Management :: 17
“Don’t Look at Me in That Tone of Voice!” Not interrupt
If the content is to be delivered aurally, several additional soft factors
Check for conflicting body language signs
must be taken into consideration. They include: tone of voice, body
language, attitude, feedback and environment. Be personally receptive and not fatigued

The tone of voice used to deliver a message can have more effect on the A fun test to determine someone’s listening skills is to pose this question
listener than the message itself. Observations have shown that if the to a colleague: “You are the driver of a Greyhound coach going to New
tone of voice conflicts with the message being delivered, the listener York from Du Bois. Twenty passengers get on at the start. On the way,
will respond to the tone rather than the content. The tone usually needs 33 passengers are picked up in Bloomsburg and two get out. Another 12
to be positive. It can be persuasive, upbeat, encouraging, passengers are picked up at Stroudsburg junction. Twenty get out at
congratulatory, cheerful, convincing or welcoming. Newark and the coach eventually reaches New York at 5:00 p.m. How old
is the driver?” The correct answer is the age of the listener.
The body language of the speaker must match his tone of voice. A
project manager needs to understand his/her own body language and Stakeholder Management
how it can be controlled. If a negative emotion is shown via body Stakeholders are an important and essential part of a project. A project
language when a positive message is being made, conflicting messages manager cannot deliver projects without them. “People issues” relating
are sent to the listener, and the impact of the message is lessened. to the project can often be resolved with the influence of a major
Positive body language includes smiling, nodding of the head, sponsor. Methods of communication are written in the project
maintaining eye contact (dependent on culture) and being smartly communication plan, and soft skills are used in interacting with
dressed. During the deliver, the facial expressions and body language of stakeholders. A project manager who has the trust and support of the
the listeners need to be read for signs of boredom or puzzlement. To be major stakeholders has a much easier time. A power/influence matrix
effective at reading body language and avoiding misinterpreation of can be used to understand the key stakeholders who need to be
people’s idiosycrasies, a project manager should get to know people as managed carefully. The matrix maps the power of the stakeholder
individuals. There are many books available going into further detail on against his/her interest level:
body language and its multitude of interpretations. If a stakeholder has low power and interest, minimal effort is needed.

A positive and assertive attitude, as apposed to one that is weak or If the power is high and interest low, they need to be kept satisfied.
aggressive, must always be maintained when trying to motivate If the power is low and interest high, they need to be kept informed.
listeners. Frequent eye contact with an open and relaxed posture is best,
and above all, practice what you preach by setting a good example. If both power and interest are high, these people are key stakeholders.
There are various other soft techniques useful to a project manager.
Communication is a two-way process. In order to confirm the message
These include time management, running meetings, conflict and stress
has been understood, a project manager must solicit feedback. The
management, creativity and analytical thinking, problem solving,
most effective way is to ask open-ended questions (what, why, how) that
leadership and managerial skills. These are well-served by books or
allow more than a “yes” or “no” response. If control of the discussion
free reading material on business websites. Behind Closed Doors —
time is needed, then directed questions are useful.
Secrets of Great Management by Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby
provides a good overview of many of the managerial skills.
To be more receptive to a message, the environment needs to be
reasonably quiet and free from distractions. Listeners also must feel
comfortable and not intimidated by their surroundings.
Leader, Manager, Facilitator and Mentor
A project manager is called upon at various times throughout a project
to be a leader, manager, facilitator and mentor. The differences are
At the end of the message the project manager needs to summarize the
subtle, but a project manager must know when to use the appropriate
important points together with the actions required of the listeners.
technique to move the project forward. A project manager also needs to
gain the trust of his team and stakeholders.
Listening Is a Skill
Listening skills are part of any coach’s repertoire. At times, a project
Truly effective project managers must understand and use a
manager needs to be a coach and switch from being a passive listener
methodology or framework. They must be experienced, have good
to being an active listener. Active listening requires more concentration
business acumen and truly understand the business and its objectives.
than passive listening. To actively listen, a project manager must:
Finally, and most importantly, they should utilize the many soft skills
described in this article for communication and interpersonal contact.
Concentrate on the speaker and what is being said
Focus on the content and not the style of presentation Bibliography
Herding Chickens by Dan Bradbary & David Garrett
Have an open mind (preconceived ideas block active listening) People Skills for Project Managers by Steven W. Flannes, PhD and
Ask questions or summarize a point if the meaning is not clear Ginger Levin, DPA

18 :: July 2006
the right connections
For nearly three decades, the International
Legal Technology Association (ILTA) has
connected firms to the information resources
and peer networks they need.

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About the Authors
Juliet Alters is Enterprise Application Manager at O’Melveny & Myers LLP. law firm experience, holding specialist and management positions in IT at
Prior to joining O’Melveny in 2001, Juliet spent 20 years in the financial other AMLAW 100 law firms. In addition, Julia has done pro bono work as a
sector managing global software projects and served as internal consultant paralegal and has contributed to books on the subjects of supporting lawyers
on process improvement. She has taught customized Six Sigma quality and paralegals in the Microsoft Office suite of products. She has also
courses to employees and implemented tailored project methodologies in spoken at ILTA conferences and has been quoted in magazines such as Legal
organizations. Juliet can be reached at jalters@omm.com. Management. She can be reached at jforbes@brownrudnick.com.

Kiron D. Bondale, Senior Project Consultant with Solution Q Inc., is a Bruce Nicholls is a Senior Analyst with Bryan Cave located in London,
certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with over 15 years of IT with 20 years’ experience in IT service delivery and a special interest in
experience. He has managed multiple mid- to large-sized application project/program management. He is a fully qualified Prince2 Practitioner
development and systems integration projects and has worked in both and member of the British Computer Society Project Management
internal and professional services project management capacities. Kiron Specialist Group. He is also the London Volunteer City Representative
has set up project management offices (PMOs) and has provided project (VCR) for ILTA. Bruce can be reached at bbnicholls@bryancave.com.
portfolio management and project management consulting services to a
number of clients across various industries. He can be reached at Brad Robbins is Vice President, Products and Customer Management at
kbondale@solutionq.com. Solution Q Inc. He oversees the implementation of Eclipse Project Portfolio
Management software and the delivery of project and portfolio
Patrick Byron is Senior Project Manager at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal management professional services. Brad has been designing, developing
LLP where he is responsible for roll out and implementation of firm IT and implementing programs and solutions across various markets,
initiatives. His projects range from vendor application customization and including the legal sector, for over a decade. Brad’s background includes
Web application deployment to server upgrades. He is also responsible for experience as both a project and business professional and as a technology
communicating to executive sponsors, project teams, vendors and solution architect with extensive real-world project experience. Brad can be
stakeholders; and he has developed project charters, schedules, risk reached at brobbins@solutionq.com.
management plans, communication plans, issue lists, etc., from inception
to closure. He can be reached at pbyron@sonnenschein.com. Melissa Tanner is a Project Manager in the Project Management Office
(PMO) at Seyfarth Shaw LLP where she is responsible for technology,
Julia C. Forbes is the Training and Application Services Manager at Brown process and business projects. She has 15 years of experience in IT, with
Rudnick Berlack Israels LLP. In her role, she manages a staff of support eight of those as a project manager. Prior to Seyfarth, she has worked in
specialists in the firm’s Boston, Hartford and New York offices, and she both large and small companies in a wide range of industries.
directs and proposes training strategies and programs for technical training Additionally, Melissa is an adjunct professor at Keller University. She can
and evaluation of employee skills for the entire firm. Julia has 10 years of be reached at mtanner@seyfarth.com.

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