IT Professionals Should Watch Their Language

When someone’s job description is “firefighter,” you know exactly how they can help you. If your house is on fire, they will put it out. We don’t call a firefighter a “long hose operator.” That may be technically accurate, but incomplete and unclear to those of us outside the fire station.

Naming conventions based on consumption make so much more sense than those based on operational or technical specs.

IT professionals want to be recognized for creating business value. Yet too often they are referred to as people who merely provide technology. It’s frustrating. To understand the disconnect, consider how IT professionals talk about themselves and their projects. Common IT titles include software development lead, SAP project manager, or something else referencing their specialty. A lot of project names I see include “cloud migration,” “system integration,” or “upgrade.” If you verbalize what you do through technology, you will be perceived as a technology-centered person.

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PM Pointers: Managing Superstars

Part 5 in our 5-part Managing Needy Team Members series.

As project managers, we often run into team members that require a great deal of attention. In an opening post for this series, we discussed a general approach to dealing with resources that need TLC. This post offers techniques for managing superstars, who are often in need of TLC but it is not as apparent.

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PM Pointers: Managing a Team Member with a Personal Agenda

Part 4 in our 5-part Managing Needy Team Members series.

As project managers, we often run into team members that require a great deal of attention. In an opening post for this series, we discussed a general approach to dealing with resources that need TLC. This post offers techniques for getting the most output out of folks who see the project as a way to achieve a personal agenda. In one way or another, these team members have no interest in doing what is best for the team, but rather what is best for themselves.

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PM Pointers: Managing a Team Member with Personal Issues

Part 3 in our 5-part Managing Needy Team Members series.

As project managers, we often run into team members that require a great deal of attention. In an opening post for this series, we discussed a general approach to dealing with resources that need TLC. This post offers techniques for getting the most output out of folks who have personal circumstances that are objectively more critical to them than work.

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PM Pointers: Managing a Team Member Who is Coasting

Part 2 in our 5-part Managing Needy Team Members series.

As project managers, we often run into team members who require a great deal of attention. In an opening post for this series, we discussed a general approach to dealing with resources that need TLC. This post offers techniques for getting the most output from folks who lost interest in work because they expect to exit soon.

Coasters Need TLC, Too

Some project team members know their days of working for the company are counted. Some are coasting towards retirement. Some know their jobs will likely go away when the project is complete. Typically, they just stop trying. Without emotional buy-in, these team members are often more harmful than they are helpful.

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IT Must Sacrifice Pride of Ownership for Innovation’s Sake

IT often has a complex from being considered a non-strategic business unit, or a necessary evil. In response, many IT professionals try to prove the cynics wrong. They think, “We’ll show them….”, and put a lot of pressure on themselves to come up with game-changing ideas. This overcompensating mindset within IT is counterproductive.

Every time I attend an IT conference I visit technology vendors’ booths. Vendors have gotten really elaborate with their sales techniques. Many offer ROI templates or business case building tools to help IT professionals demonstrate the value of purchasing one product or another. These vendors are enabling the exact behavior that is so self-detrimental.

Let’s admit it: ideas born in IT have little chance of securing participation from the business, let alone budget for developing a prototype. IT-generated innovations don’t get much support because they tend to be technology-based.

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PM Pointers: A “Needy” Team Member Is a Project Risk

A solely results-oriented project manager (PM) sees every project as a personal opportunity to achieve success. On the other hand, some PMs see a project as a series of process steps where their individual role is simply to check boxes.

Neither of these approaches is effective.

To be a great PM, one needs an array of leadership skills. The most critical leadership skill required from project managers is genuine care about the project team members. If you genuinely care about individual contributors you can achieve extraordinary results.

TLC is a natural part of caring about people. Although some team members need more TLC than others.

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How to Increase IT Project Team Intensity

Motivation is a concept well-covered in project management resources, and is required constantly for project success.

Intensity is the level of focus by a project team on a particular activity. Without taking deliberate steps, intensity tends to naturally slide. Maximum intensity is not appropriate to maintain at all times, as it could lead to burnout. However, at key points throughout the project you will need to turn the intensity up to its highest level.

The graph below shows a healthy intensity fluctuation over peaks and troughs.

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traits of a great IT Project Manager

Great Traits: What Makes an IT Project Manager Exceptional

Throughout my projects with Abraic, I have worked with quite a few project managers. And while some were first-rate, others had a little catching up to do. Below are my observations on what makes an IT project manager great.

It boils down to two key areas – vision and emotional intelligence.

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CIOs: Never Ask for Money Again

How Do You Fund Your IT Investments?

First of all, if you are an IT manager or executive and have asked for money to fund a project, you are brave. Too many folks in IT are order-takers. So, hats off to those valiant IT leaders who create business cases for IT initiatives, and present justifications for investments.

However, there is an inherent issue with “asking for money.” It’s as uncomfortable for the asker as it is for the askee. It is almost like you are asking to borrow money with a promise to repay with interest if everything works out.

What’s worse, a pattern of asking for money widens the gap between the business and IT. It doesn’t need to be like this.

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