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The 5 Key Requirements of a Successful Project Manager

1. Be a Leader AND A Manager:  Leaders share and communicate a common vision (of some future state); they gain agreement and establish the forward direction. Leadership is more than just telling someone what to do - it is inspiring them and motivating them by giving real world examples and ongoing guidance  Good Leaders motivate others. Managers are results driven and focus on getting work done against agreed requirements. A good project manager will constantly switch from a leader to a manager as the situations require. .

2. Be A Team Builder AND A Team Leader:  Because projects are often cross-functional in that they use people who may not have worked together before. It is up to the project manager to set the ‘tone’ of the team and to lead them through the various team development phases to the point where they perform as a team. Often, the team individuals have their own line manager, and so the PM has no implied authority – yet still needs to motivate the individual. This is par…
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DEALING WITH IRATE AND DIFFICULT CUSTOMERS

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that you will receive complaints from customers.  Sometimes these are warranted and sometimes not.  Having the skill and patience to deal with these types of issues is what makes (or breaks) an excellent customer service, technical support & help-desk team.
People working the Customer Service and Helpdesk fields are often at the sharp end of having to deal with angry customers.  One the one hand, some of these customers are just looking for fault or being extremely picky or even those (shudder, dread) chronic complainers who just like to hear their own voice.  I'm not going to discuss those types of people in this post, as although they exist, generally, people who complain about a product or service are ones that have NOT received what they have paid for.  Most people don't enjoy complaining and find it a difficult (and to be avoided) process, so keep this in mind when you are speaking to them.  They are NOT trying to just make your …

CSI & Benchmarking

As an IT professional, it is incumbent upon you to continue developing your skills and knowledge as that is the only way to ensure that you are current with what is considered "best practice".

After all - while you might think of your skills at work as being similar to Wolverine's, you'll realize that he didn't get that way without continuous and ongoing training in the Danger Room to ensure that he was able to meet and surpass any situation!

Now you might wonder about why I've gone into this tangent about comic book hero's and their struggles, but I assure it will all make sense.  In my own personal life I'm currently working on my ITIL Intermediate set of certifications so that I can eventually have an ITIL Expert designation.  

The one that I'm currently on which I'd like to share with you is called CSI (Continual Service Improvement) and while some people might consider that acronym to refer to Crime Scene Investigations and the host of shows…

THE HELPDESK

What is it?In its simplest form, a helpdesk is a group of people assigned to assist customers in solving their problems.  There are many different types of helpdesks and they are called by a variety of different names depending on the function that they serve, however the main point to make clear is that their purpose is to resolve a specific issue for a paying customer. Types of Help Desks At its simplest you could break down Help Desks into two main types. There are definitely sub categorizations within each type and quite often they are called different things, but from an end users point of view there are really only two different types: Contact/Customer Service - this type of helpdesk is generally more administrative in function and scope. They would provide customers with account information and perhaps act in a sales capacity with regards to new services and other offerings that might suit the clients needs.Support & Technical Operations - break/fix or tech support or netwo…

INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL SLA'S

A very important point to remember at all times is that you need to have a more aggressive Internal SLA vs. the one that you are offering to your customers. 
I know it sounds self evident doesn't it, but there are no end of organizations that I've dealt with where customers are offered a 4hr SLA on a 24/7 basis and the engineers that can actually fix the problem are either unavailable till the next business day or NOT even on call!!! 
 Let me state this once again and very clearly so that there is NO CONFUSION ... If you are offering your customers an SLA of 'X Hours' and your Engineering (or Development or Project Management or ... etc...) team is only offering you an SLA of 'X + Y Hours' ... YOU WILL LOSE MONEY and YOU WILL LOSE CUSTOMERS!!! 
 It is imperative that your internal SLA be better than the one you are offering to your customers and you need to ensure that your Sales team and Senior Management are both on board with this. 
Remember, also, that th…

MATRIX MANAGEMENT AND PROJECTS

Diagram of a matrix organisation (Photo credit: Wikipedia) With large projects having all the required resources to hand is sometimes a difficult job in itself. While systems and hardware are easily acquired, the skills and specializations that people can bring to bear need time to develop. You could “hire” for it, but to some extent, that is a losing proposition as someone coming into the company fresh, will often not have the necessary internal knowledge or skills required to get the job done. This is where Matrix Management comes into play. TAKE THE BLUE PILL Matrix management is something that has been around for quite a while and despite your initial thoughts, it really does not have anything to do with Keanu Reaves and a long standing war between humanity and the machines! Rather, Matrix management (with respect to Projects) is a way of utilizing resources that exist in other teams so that you are able to accomplish your objectives. These resources are on temporary “loan” and mu…

KPIs AND THE IMPORTANCE OF MEASUREMENT

DMAIC There is a great quote somewhere that goes something like - "If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it!" ... this is so true and especially so in the Customer Service and Operations area. There are great KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) and not so great ones. The key is choosing the right one for your business and you need to choose it from a CUSTOMER point of view. There is no use choosing your KPI from any other area as if you lose your customers, you lose your revenue and obviously you lose your business!! When defining a set of KPIs to control and measure performance, the most likely debate is probably around measuring KPIs. Another way to think about KPIs is that they are measurements designed to assess performance. DMAIC is an abbreviation of the five improvement steps: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control and while it is a key mantra in six-sigma improvements, it is not only used in this methodology. What KPI’s should I use? Your choice of K…