Posts Tagged ‘Management’

A product or service is only as good as the people that make it, design it, or sell it. This means that one of the most important assets of any organization is their human capital. If you have qualified, enthusiastic individuals, you will have a better chance of maintaining a leading edge over your competitor. If you have poor morale, low production, ineffective service, or untrained individuals – the chances are pretty high that your organization will be in the top 33% of all organizations that fail. People really do make the difference.

It is easy to see why HR is the most expensive part of doing business if you consider that studies show that the expense of having employees is about 40% of a company’s profit,. Large organizations have always seemed to have HR expertise – they have fully staffed HR or Personnel Departments with varying degrees of specialties, such as compensation, benefits, training, recruiting, etc. A fully staffed HR Department in a large organization might consist of at least three people at a cost of about $ 200,000 per year – just for salaries. Just imagine what you, the small company owner, could do with a staff of 5 people and an overhead budget of approximately $ 200,000 per year.

Well, in the first place you would not need 5 HR people. Most small companies can do quite well with a part-time HR person that is capable of giving good HR advice and counseling. Costs may vary, depending upon the expertise you are looking for, however, if you find an independent contractor with solid HR experience, an hourly rate for tasks completed would probably be very cost effective.

What can you, as a small company owner or manager do to have the leading edge and have your employees weigh in on the asset side of the ledger and not on the liability side? Talk to various human resource consultants and pick one that is right for your organization – one with experience, capabilities, and knowledge of human resource functions. Look at tools and resources that will help you develop your staff. Be sure to check out all available tools and resources and find the right one for you.

Once you decide on the right combination you can get on with what you do best – run your company.

Cathy Baniewicz has over 30 years experience in human resources. Her career began at Beatrice Foods Co., where she progressed to Assistant Director of Affirmative Action and Corporate Personnel Manager. Prior to joining EffortlessHR, Cathy was Assistant Director of Human Resources at Golden Eagle Distributors, Inc. (Budweiser). Cathy has her B.A. degree from DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois, and MBA from George Williams College, Aurora, Illinois. Cathy obtained her Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification in December of 2004.

Modification Management could be a critical piece for corporations. Giant companies rely on it for anything that affects their production environment. However what is modification management the least bit? Change Management is the method that kicks in when a change is made to the assembly surroundings of a business. For the matter of this article we tend to can use an Data Technology related case to explain Modification Management.

Company “A” uses modification management to keep track of changes to its net servers. The amendment management method conjointly allows to tell all internal business units and departments of the upcoming amendment to the net servers and what elements of the business are suffering from this change. The change management process is started by the decision to update the internet servers with a more moderen version of the web application. The web site administrators, the QA department and also the developers have finished the ultimate testing of the new application update and now it is time to travel live.

The website administrator starts the method by writing down the purpose of the modification and what steps are needed to finish the task. He conjointly describes the impact to internal and external users and that departments of the business may be affected (example: external client service). The description of those tasks for the update are sometimes high level and not too detailed. The reason for this is often additional to tell the business concerning the change and not to list an exact a way to little by little guide.

Once the website administrator has finished the initial change management request form (electronic or hardcopy) it goes up one level to his direct manager and together with his approval the change management request is being distributed among departmental points of contact that are outlined in an earlier process. The various departments and business groups review the change management request to judge the impact to the department or group. If no impact is visible or if a potential impact is already addressed and lined within the modification request the department or cluster approves the modification management. If a doable impact isn’t addressed the cluster or department denies approval and ask for additional data or how the problem in question  can be addressed. Approval for the amendment request goes to “pending”.

Once all problems are addressed and figured out and each necessary approval has been submitted the modification management request awaits yet one more step – CTO (Chief Technology Officer) or CIO (Chief Info Officer) approval may be required. This process makes certain that a data of changes that affect the business is formed and that each cluster, every department and also the business management are aware of what’s going on.

Some critics see amendment management as a method that slows down the flexibility to act quick when needed. Others see it as assurance for continuing business success as department A might not understand how massive the impact of a proposed modification is to department B.

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One problem faced by all those moving into a more senior management position is the potential isolation and so not really understanding what is happening at the sharp end of the business. It is all too easy to become isolated from the problems and issues that, if tackled, would help the company thrive.

A recent television programme tackled this problem by sending Executives undercover to work alongside their employees. Whilst this made excellent television, we do not recommend that you go undercover to achieve the same results. Instead we suggest you practice Management On The Move as this is an excellent method of reducing management isolation to a bare minimum.

Management on the Move means that you keep on going to see people, even if you are received coolly to start with. Some employees can feel intimidated when the boss suddenly turns up and starts asking questions and because of this they can become suspicious and reluctant to communicate.

Do not let this put you off. When your employees realise that your visits are routine, their suspicions will disappear. They may even see you as providing a welcome break from the job!

It is, however, important that you have a good explanation ready for your habit of walking around because your employees may ask you your reasons, as taught on any good management training course. If they do, tell them the truth: that you want to increase personal contact so that when problems arise in individual departments, you will find out in time. One danger of Management on the Move is that employees may try to use your visits to pass over their immediate superiors and escalate problem directly to you. It is important to discourage this inappropriate escalation as their immediate superiors must not get the impression that their authority is being undermined by your visits. Ask an employee first of all whether they have already talked it over with their superior, if not refer the problem back to the line manager to resolve.

How much time should bosses spend walking around? There are some who spend at least thirty minutes or so each day in their employees’ offices and in the works. Other people in charge prefer to talk to the staff during the coffee break. There really is no right or wrong answer. Indeed, you may deliberately choose to vary your routine so as to see as many different people as possible at different times of the day. For example, you could get into the habit of using a different entrance each day thereby talking to different people on your way to the office.

Richard Stone (richard.stone@spearhead-training.co.uk) is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that specialises in running management and sales training courses. Richard provides consultancy advice for numerous world leading companies.

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Change Management is not easy. It is a painful process that requires the Project Manager to be both a warrior and a diplomat. You will need an arsenal of quality tools, and well honed soft skills to make it through managing a change with little or no collateral damage. I am sure you think I am exaggerating. Here’s why I am not:

1. You will have 3 factions to deal with:

A key group of stakeholders will think the change is vital to the success of the project (they may or may not be right) and will be unwilling to budge until the change is agreed upon and implemented.
Another group will have no capacity to absorb the change without additional funding and/or time.
Leadership. You are not likely to get more time. You may or may not get additional funding, but more funding is not likely to help without crashing the schedule anyway until new resources are brought up to speed.

It’s even more fun when the stakeholders who want the change are also leadership. I’m sure you’ve heard, “Just get it done” before.

2. Most people are naturally resistant to change:

Once headed in a particular direction, it’s at least irritating and often demoralizing to people who have to change direction or start over. Maintaining positive energy in the ranks is a challenge, especially if things keep changing.

3. Someone ultimately is going to be unhappy about the final decision.

In the end though, change is natural and will happen. You will be successful if:

You clearly set expectations about how change will be managed early in the project.
Decisions to make or not make a change are well informed decisions.

Key Strategies for Managing Change

Plan your butt off and define scope extremely well. Strong planning around solid scope definition is a key to minimizing unexpected change down the road.
Force quality requirements development. Don’t even think about design or engineering before you have a high level of confidence that requirements are solid and well understood. If you inherit requirements, make everyone review them and agree to them again before going too far into design. You will be pressured to run ahead because things will appear stagnant during requirements engineering. Trust me, stand your ground. It will pay off down the road.
Plan for change. It will happen regardless of how well you do 1-2 above. Developing a simple to follow process as part of your plan will help set the expectation for everyone and make it easy for you to act swiftly when the time comes.
Get the following key stakeholders to agree/sign-off on your project plan and requirements. This won’t always help when the rubber hits the road, but it does put everyone on a level playing field when that first change request comes in:
The Project Sponsor. This person will be like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when it comes to change depending on which faction has his/her ear. If you can at least get agreement for your change management process, you will minimize snap decisions that can de-rail your project.
Engineering/Development Managers. This group will be moderately resistant to change without additional time or funding. They will be protective of their teams and will push back on requiring their people to work additional hours. Assuring them that no decisions will be made without their input will keep them from assuming a defensive posture and help drive collaboration when the time comes.
Quality Assurance or Test Managers. This group always gets screwed when it comes to change. No wiggle room in the schedule often means shortening of the QA cycle. They know it, and are already on the defensive. Incorporating quality considerations into your change management process will enable this group to describe risks to quality when certain decisions are made. While this may not ultimately change the final decision, at least this group will have been at the table with a voice.

The Change Management Plan

This section of your project plan needs to include the following:

Clear criteria for when the change management process is required
Roles and responsibilities
A simple step by step procedure that includes how to perform these key steps:
Requesting the change
Impact assessment
Exploring alternatives
Making the final decision
Drafting the tactical plan to incorporate the change and get back on track

In addition, you will need to have standard templates/tools in place ahead of time to help manage the change when the time comes.

A Change Management form or template.
A SWORD Analysis (a future article)
A Change Management Log

Change Management Criteria

The change management process is required when a requested change will likely have any impact on project scope, increase in schedule, increase in cost, or degradation of quality.

Other texts may say that ANY impact to schedule or cost require the change management procedure to be executed. I personally disagree, but you can decide for yourself.

Roles and Responsibilities

Every project should have a predefined Change Control Board (CCB) that includes at least the Project Manager, Project Sponsor, Development/Engineering Managers, and QA/Test Managers.

Your projects may require additional roles. Here are some quick guidelines:

Roles should be included if they have resources assigned to the project, human resources, HW/SW resources, financial resources, etc.
Roles should be included if they are managing projects that have dependencies on your project, or vice versa.
Roles should be included if they have oversight across multiple related projects, i.e. Program Managers or Release Managers.

Each member of the CCB will have different responsibilities. Here are some examples:

Project Manager(s)

Document the change request
Manage the change request through the process
Facilitate the CCB meetings
Incorporate approved change requests into the project

Project Sponsor(s)

Attend CCB Meetings
Make final decision to approve or reject each change request

HR managers for resources assigned to projects and System managers managing systems impacted by your project

Perform Impact Assessments as requested
Attend CCB Meetings
Participate in implementation planning for approved change requests

Release/Program Managers

Drive Impact Assessment for dependent projects
Attend CCB meetings
Participate in implementation planning for approved change requests

Impact Assessment

This is the most important piece of managing a change request. A quality impact assessment will drive an informed decision and, when the change request is approved, will ensure smooth introduction of the change into the in-flight project. Do this well.

Each group/team represented in your project and dependent projects will need to complete an Impact Assessment. Simply put, this is an estimate of additional cost and/or duration that team will incur if the change is approved. This information is compiled from all teams and then brought to the Change Control Board meeting for discussion and decision.

Exploring Alternatives

Very often, a person requesting a change will be very focused on exactly what he/she wants for a solution, and will not clearly articulate what the problem is that needs to be solved. Because of this, you should always go through the exercise of exploring alternatives. A good branistorming exercise with key stakeholders almost always results in a creative solution that will result in less drama that the originally proposed solution. This is because everyone has had a chance to voice opinion, and will be more willing to compromise. Look for another article by me titled, “SWORD Analysis, SWOT with an Edge” where I discuss a great method for exploring alternatives.

Making the Final Decision

Now that you have all of the information compiled, the final decision is made. If you have done everything up to this point as described above, the decision is simply a formality. More often than not, the decision was already made during Exploring Alternatives. But in very rare cases, it’s not so simple. In cases like that, you will need to call upon your sponsor to make the final call.

Drafting the Tactical Plan

OK – so now you have an approved change request. The final step – implement the change. Simple? Not quite.

Think of a change as a small project within the project. As such, you will need to have a plan for how the change will be implemented. This plan should contain many of the sections of the project plan, but very simplified. Your plan to implement the change should be a single page document or less.

Here are the sections you will need:

Roles and Responsibilities
Tasks, including who is assigned, and when it is due
Status reporting plan – how people can expect to be notified of the progress

The Log

Finally, you will need to track the progress of all of your change requests so that you can manage several at once, as well as keeping everyone in the know about them. Your log should contain the following sections:

ID – Simple numbering suffices
Title – A short title describing the change
Description – a paragraph that describes the change in more detail
Requestor – The name of the person requesting the change
status – Requested, Assessed, Alternatives Explored, Accepted/Rejected, Implemented (if accepted)

Add more if you like, but these are the primary sections.

Phew! I know it seems like a lot, but trust me, you will need to get good at this. Strong change management skills are what will separate good project managers from great project managers.

Keep reading and I’ll keep writing!

Steve

Steve Yuhas is an accomplished project manager with a focus on efficient software engineering through data driven process improvement and simplification. He has applied his skills to a variety of industries, and has most recently begun some personal ventures like MarketCastle.com