A + B = X Factor: The Formula for Improving IT Performance

How is it that high-performing teams work so well? Is it something innate? Is it luck? Or is there a repeatable formula that results in outstanding team performance? The spoiler is in the title of this post! Leaders can produce superior results by consciously managing team dynamics to create ideal environmental factors for a team’s unique demands.

It’s all about giving teams what they need to thrive. Here is the model we use to determine what a given team needs to succeed. 

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Stop Talking Past Each Other! Improve Communication by Tuning Into Your Dominant “Language”

Do you ever have those moments in a conversation when you can tell that you just aren’t on the same page as the other person? You’re saying similar words, but your wires are getting crossed. For some reason, you just don’t understand things the same way. It is a frustrating, confusing, and time-consuming phenomenon. Miscommunication also wreaks havoc on team productivity. The good news is you can put a stop to these issues once you understand power of communication styles and how they influence what people say, hear, and think. 

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5 Risks CIOs Must Assume in the Digital Age

For too many people, the concepts of “acting as a responsible CIO” and “taking risks” are mutually exclusive. A Traditional CIO is accustomed to a world where if nothing breaks, their job is safe. If they don’t touch anything, they can’t break anything. In this paradigm, taking risks is unwise.

In my opinion, rampant risk avoidance is the reason CIOs now lose their jobs at the second highest rate among the C-suite. Inaction—or maintaining the status quo—carries a much greater threat to the CIO (and the organization) than does taking an active stance and assuming the associated risks. In the digital age, where IT is the business, being CIO is like playing quarterback: if you stay in the pocket long enough, you will get sacked. You have to make a move.

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tin can phone

The Value of a Communication Plan for IT Initiatives

Communication plans for an IT project might come off as overkill, or even remind you of a nagging parent’s chore chart. In fact, the two organizational methods do have something in common: they tackle and alleviate misalignment. However, unlike helicopter parents, a strong IT project communication plan empowers workers and frees up their time. In an age where 1 in 5 projects are unsuccessful due to ineffective communication, taking the time to plan out and manage communication is crucial.

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A successful communication plan ensures that:

  • expectations are aligned across the organization;
  • project managers have the information they need to guide the project; and
  • purposeless meetings are eliminated so that everyone’s time is optimized.

To get started with your Project Management Communication Plan—and increase the chance of project success—make sure you’re prepared to perform the following 6 tasks.

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The 4 Most Important Skills for an IT Project Manager

The title of Project Manager (PM) assumes a specific set of skills. While PMs certainly qualify as leaders, and the best possess the same qualities that define a great leader, project management is not an abstract art.

PMI defines a framework that is universal enough to apply to any project execution, anywhere in the world, under any conditions, yet, with a very precise set of tools. Some innate talents cannot be taught, but for the purposes of project management, the most important skills can (and should) be learned—and they improve with experience.

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The 5 Secret Jobs of an IT Project Manager

Did you think a Project Manager had just 1 job? There’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than simply “managing a project.”

PMs are often overwhelmed, and always looking for spare time between meetings to get work done. They are pulled in a number of directions, and can easily be distracted from more important tasks. If they’re not careful, they get caught up in politics above them and drama below.

How can a PM stay focused on the most important activities that will best serve their project, organization, and career? By performing these 5 hidden functions:

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meeting huddle

A Day in the Life of an IT Project Manager

IT project managers cover a lot of ground during the workday. From meetings with their team, business counterparts, stakeholders, and users, to prep work before and after meetings, to sending ad hoc communications as the project demands, PMs are birds in flight.

Let’s follow along a day in the life of a typical project manager to explore what needs to be done, why it’s important for the success of the project, and how to make each task more effective.

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5 Risk Tolerance Considerations for Project Managers

How Much Risk You Are Willing to Tolerate?

Every project manager deals with risk assessment and risk management. If done right, the project manager will ensure the overall project plan includes a risk management plan early in the project. The risk management plan is typically guided by the risk attitude of the project stakeholders, which is determined by their risk appetite, risk tolerance, and risk threshold.

The PMBOK Guide offers detailed definitions and guidance for each of these factors. For this discussion, we will use simplified descriptions:

Risk appetite is the level of risk that an organization is willing to accept to reach its goals and objectives. Risk appetite is typically culturally determined within the organization.

Risk tolerance tells you how sensitive the organization or the project stakeholders are to risks, their willingness to accept or avoid risk. Risk tolerance is variable, if not fluid, from person to person.

Risk threshold is the level of impact, typically a clear figure, beyond which the organization will no longer tolerate the risk. Risk threshold is a negotiated or determined quantified limit.

Project stakeholders are hardly ever asked what their individual tolerance level is. They agree on the risk management plan, but transfer their trust and expectations to the project manager. Stakeholders may understand the risk, but they may not fully grasp what acceptance of the risk means in practice.

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10 ingredients of a successful UAT

10 Ingredients of a Successful User Acceptance Test (UAT)

The User Acceptance Test (UAT) is a critical component of any IT implementation. The goal of a UAT is to validate if a system or solution will meet the needs of business users in their operational environment.

The outcome of this phase sends the project down one of two paths. If all goes well, the project moves on to the Go Live phase. If it’s a flop, the project faces many challenges ahead, the Go Live timeframe is at risk, and the credibility of the project with the business may be tarnished. Obviously, the stakeholders want the UAT to go well. So how do you secure a win?

Let’s explore the 10 key ingredients of a successful UAT. We’ve seen this recipe work across a wide variety of IT projects.

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