Iliyana's Blog

How to Run an Effective Project Kick-off Meeting [Project Management Fundamentals]

[fa icon="calendar'] 23-Mar-2020 08:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Project Management

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We've so far covered quite a few topics around project management - the differences between projects and operations as well as those between projects, programmes and portfolios, the DARCI model for stakeholder engagement.  

A very, very key thing for any project, is its kick-off or the meeting that gets the project team together to get the project started. 

Most kick-off meetings are actually not always effective. Often, that's due to lack of proper preparation or because they're not taken seriously and performed super fast. 

Your kick-off meeting should be long. It's probably the longest meeting you'll run during the entire project. It could even be a whole day or two if your project's length is a year or more. 

But how do you run an effective and productive kick-off meeting?

As a PMI member, I have access to and recently watched a great webinar on that topic so I want to share with you the key learnings. Here we go:

How to Run an Effective Project Kick-off Meeting

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How to Earn Stakeholder Commitment in a Multicultural Setting

[fa icon="calendar'] 14-Feb-2020 07:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Project Management, Cultural Differences in Business

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To be a successful project manager, one of the key skills you need to have or need to acquire is stakeholder management. This is yet another of the project management fundamentals.  

That's especially important because often you'll be the person responsible for the execution and the success of a project and you'll have a team of people who will be doing the work but they won't report into you directly. 

Being able to influence is crucial so that your team can follow your guidance and requirements, but it's also important even before you start your project - you need to be able to get stakeholder commitment so that you can get the resources you need for your project and have the buy-in of key people in the organisation that will support you in case of difficulties because you'll need to have convinced them of the importance of your project. 

There are typically five strategies for gaining stakeholder commitment. I learned about them from a paper on PMI written by Bill Richardson.

We'll cover them briefly in a second but what I'll also do is to spend time on looking at how these strategies might have to be adapted based on cultural differences.

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Projects, Programmes & Portfolios [Project Management Fundamentals]

[fa icon="calendar'] 30-Jan-2020 11:01:35 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Program Management, Project Management

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I promised to write more about project management this year based on your interest so I'm starting a project management series today. 

First, we'll cover important project management fundamentals - we've gone through an overview of them with three infographics and we've also discussed the most popular project management methodologies and the differences between projects and operations.

Today, we'll go through another foundational topic: projects, programmes and portfolios. 

A lot of people don't know the difference between these and intercept them, making their work less focused and less specific which in turn leads to an organisation that's not as well organised as it should be so that it's efficient and effective. 

What are Projects, Programmes and Portfolios?

Let's take a quick look at these three terms:

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The Difference Between Projects and Operations

[fa icon="calendar'] 11-Dec-2019 09:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Project Management

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Lots of people confuse projects and operations and oftentimes they consider operations to be an ongoing project. 

But there's no such thing as an ongoing project.

I've had to explain this multiple times and if you work in project management, you'll have to do this a lot too so that you can set expectations on where your work starts and ends. 

The handover between the project and operations needs to be clarified even before you start with your project so that it's clear who's going to take over and when. 

But let's take a look at the differences between projects and operations so you get a better idea of what I'm talking about. 

What's a Project?

I'm a certified Project Management Professional by the PMI and their PMBOK guide defines projects as "a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result."

Projects are: 

  • temporary - they have a definitive beginning and end
  • unique - they are a new undertaking, unexplored ground

Projects are characterised by:

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The Key Cultural and Country Preferences for Effective Leadership

[fa icon="calendar'] 04-Dec-2019 08:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Leadership, Program Management, Project Management

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There's no doubt that organisational culture impacts the behaviour, values and practices of anybody working at that organisation. 

As a program manager, I've always thought of myself as a different type of leader who acts as a change agent to help create a positive organisational culture among my project or program team.  

But since I've always worked in an international environment and with multi-cultural teams, that's not always been easy. 

I've written about cultural differences before and they play a huge role in the success of any project or program. 

In fact, knowledge and awareness of cultural values can enable leaders and managers to effectively manage and work through intercultural conflict and interactions.

To learn more, I found a research a while ago performed by GLOBE that maps leadership within cultural groups around the world. 

The GLOBE research team defines leadership as the "ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organisations of which they are members."

The team found that members of different societies have differing expectations from their leaders that are influenced by their cultural values. They also identified leadership attributes that were culturally-endorsed.

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