New Articles posted to the Web #32

BeaverWe have been busy beavers updating the PM Knowledge Index on our website with White Papers and Articles.   Some of the more interesting uploaded during the last couple of weeks include:

And we continue to tweet a free PMI style of exam question every day for PMP, CAPM and PMI-SP candidates: See today’s question and then click through for the answer and the Q&As from last week. You are welcome to download and use the information under our Creative Commons licence

Defining Stakeholder Engagement

Two earlier posts have discussed the concepts of stakeholder engagement.

Stakeholder Engagement GroupThis post builds on these foundations to look at the tools and techniques of proactive stakeholder engagement. Effective stakeholder engagement is a mutually beneficial process designed to enable better planned and more informed policies, projects, programs and services.

For stakeholders, the benefits of engagement include the opportunity to contribute as experts in their field or ‘users’ of the deliverable, have their issues heard and participate in the decision-making process. This should lead to:

  • Greater opportunities to contribute directly to the development of the outputs from the work;
  • More open and transparent lines of communication, increasing accountability and driving innovation;
  • Improved access to decision-making processes, resulting in the delivery of better outcomes;
  • Early identification of synergies between the stakeholders and the work, encouraging integrated and comprehensive solutions to complex issues.

For the ‘organisation’, the benefits of stakeholder engagement include improved information flows, access to local knowledge and having the opportunity to try out ideas or proposals with stakeholders before they are formalised. This should lead to:

  • Higher quality decision-making;
  • Increased efficiency in and effectiveness of delivery;
  • Improved risk management practices – allowing risks to be identified and considered earlier, thereby reducing future costs;
  • Streamlined development processes;
  • Greater alignment with stakeholder interests – ensuring outputs are delivered in collaboration with stakeholders and provide outcomes which meet their needs;
  • Enhanced stakeholder community confidence in the work being undertaken;
  • Enhanced capacity to innovate.

As with any stakeholder management process, ‘not all stakeholders are equal’ some stakeholders should be engaged because they are important to the work being undertaken, others simply need to be kept informed by appropriate levels of communication (for more on this see The three types of stakeholder communication).

The various levels of stakeholder communication, management and engagement are:

  • Inform: You provide the stakeholder with an appropriate level of communication, generally either PR or reporting.
  • Manage: You direct your communication to achieve a desired change in the attitude of the stakeholder or to manage an emerging situation.
  • Consult: You invite the stakeholder to provide feedback, analysis, and/or suggest alternatives to help develop a better outcome.
  • Involve: You work directly with stakeholders to ensure that their concerns and needs are consistently understood and considered; eg, the business representative involved in an Agile sprint).
  • Collaborate: You partner with the stakeholder to develop mutually agreed alternatives, make joint decisions and identify preferred solutions; eg, typical ‘alliance’ and ‘partnering’ forms of contract.
  • Empower: You place final decision-making in the hands of the stakeholder. Stakeholders are enabled (but also need to be capable) to actively contribute to the achievement of ‘their’ outcomes.

Stakeholder CollaborationThe first three bullets above are Stakeholder Management activities, the last three various levels of Stakeholder Engagement. Deciding which level of interaction is appropriate is a key driver of success, in any project, program or other work, some stakeholders will be best managed by simply keeping them informed, whereas the higher levels of engagement such as collaboration and empowerment require stakeholders with sufficient skills and knowledge to be able to actively participate in the endeavour, and importantly the desire to be involved!

The Stakeholder Circle® methodology provides the foundations needed to understand your stakeholder community and decide on the appropriate level of engagement for the ‘high priority’ stakeholders affected by the work. When you get to ‘Step 4 – Engagement’ the additional questions that need answering include:

  • What is the purpose and desired outcomes of the engagement activity?
  • What level of engagement is required to achieve this outcome – consult, collaborate, empower?
  • What method of engagement will you use?
  • What are the timing issues or requirements?
  • What resources will you need to conduct the engagement?
  • Who is responsible for engagement?
  • What are the risks associated with the engagement?

Finally, as with any stakeholder management process, the success or otherwise of the overall process needs to be reviewed regularly and appropriate adaptation made to optimise outcomes (step 5 in the Stakeholder Circle® methodology)

Summary:

Stakeholder engagement is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to managing stakeholders and needs to be planned into the overall development of the work:

  • Some of the questions outlined above need asking at the very earliest stages of a project or program during the ‘strategic planning phase’ and will affect the way the whole of the work is planned and undertaken.
  • The culture of the organisation undertaking the work will determine how open it is to inviting stakeholder collaboration or engagement, a degree of ‘culture change’ may need to be planned into the work.
  • Stakeholder engagement is always a two-way process, the skills, capability and culture of the key stakeholders will also be a constraint on what is feasible or desirable. You may need a strategy to ‘get the stakeholders on-side’.

Overall time and effort spent on stakeholder engagement will pay dividends (see: Valuing Stakeholder Management), stakeholder engagement is simply the most proactive way of helping your stakeholders to help you deliver their requirements successfully.

New Articles posted to the Web #31

BeaverWe have been busy beavers updating the PM Knowledge Index on our website with White Papers and Articles.   Some of the more interesting uploaded during the last couple of weeks include:

And we continue to tweet a free PMI style of exam question every day for PMP, CAPM and PMI-SP candidates: See today’s question and then click through for the answer and the Q&As from last week. You are welcome to download and use the information under our Creative Commons licence

PMP® exam is changing on 11th Jan. 2016

PMPThis post offers a detailed look at the new PMP examination content and what you can expect to see different in a exam taken after the 2nd November 2015.

Notes:

  1. PMI have moved the start date back from the originally publicised date in November to January 2016.
  2. There will be no changes to the CAPM exam or any other PMI credential other than the PMI-ACP.
  3. Our free daily PMP questions are now aligned to the new exam see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-PMP-Q-Today.html
  4. All PMP of our courses starting from September 1st will be aligned to the new PMP examination, see:  http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/

The starting point for this update is the PMP Role Delineation Study (RDS) completed in April 2015, which has provided an updated description of the role of a project management professional and will serve as the foundation for the updated PMP exam. To ensure its validity and relevance, the RDS update has captured input from project management practitioners from all industries work settings, and regions. The research undertaken to update the RDS included focus groups, expert input and a large-scale, global, survey of Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification holders.

Overview of Changes

The RDS defines the domains and tasks a project manager will perform plus the skills and knowledge that a competent project manager will have. The five ‘domains’ of  Initiating, Planning Executing, Mentoring & Controlling and Closing remain unchanged, although there has been a slight reduction in the importance of ‘closing’ and an increased emphasis on executing (reflected in the allocation of questions). The other major changes are:

  • An emphasis on business strategy and benefits realisation: this new, included because many PMs are being pulled into a project much earlier in its life when business benefits are identified. There is also an increased focus across all of the other domains on delivering benefits (not just creating deliverables).
    See more on benefits management.
  • The value of lessons learned now has added emphasis: lessons should be documents across the whole project lifecycle and the knowledge gained transferred to the ‘organisation’ and the project team. See more on Lessons Learned.
  • Responsibility for the project charter shifted to the Sponsor: Most project managers are not responsible for creating the charter; the Sponsor or project owner is primarily responsible.  The PM is a contributor to the development and is responsible for communicating information about the project charter to the team and other stakeholders once the project starts.
    See more on the Project Charter.
  • Added emphasis on enhancing project stakeholder relationships and engagement: The RDS sees stakeholder engagement as a two way relationship rather than a one-way reporting function. Communication is expanded include an emphasis on relating and engaging with stakeholders. This is the theme of our last post, see: The Elements of Stakeholder Engagement.

Major Content Changes
Changes

A summary of the major content changes is:

Domain 1 Initiating the Project

Percentage of questions unchanged 13% =  26 questions.

Three tasks added:
–  Task 2: Identify key deliverables based on business requirements.
–  Task 7: Conduct benefits analysis.
–  Task 8: Inform stakeholders of approved project charter.

One task deleted:
–  Old Task 2: Define high level scope of the project.

One task significantly changed:
– Task 5: changed from ‘develop project charter’ to ‘participate in the development of the project charter’.

Major changes in the knowledge and skills required for this domain.

Domain 2 Planning the Project

Percentage of questions unchanged 24% =  48 questions.

One task added:
–  Task 13: Develop the stakeholder management plan.

One task significantly changed:
–  Task 2: expanded from ‘create WBS’ to ‘develop a scope management plan (including a WBS if needed)’.

The knowledge and skills required for this domain have been revised but basically cover the same capabilities.

Domain 3 Executing the Project

Percentage of questions increased from 30% to 31% =  62 questions.

Two tasks added:
–  Task 6: Manage the flow of information to stakeholders.
–  Task 7: Maintain stakeholder relationships.

One task deleted:
–  Old Task 6: Maximise team performance.

The knowledge and skills required for this domain have been revised but basically cover the same capabilities with the exception of the addition of ‘Vendor management techniques’.

Domain 4 Monitoring and controlling the project

Percentage of questions unchanged 25% =  50 questions.

Two tasks added:
–  Task 6: Capture, analyse and manage lessons learned.
–  Task 7: Monitor procurement activities.

One task deleted:
–  Old Task 6: Communicate project status to stakeholders.

The knowledge and skills required for this domain have been revised and expanded.

Domain 5 Closing the project

Percentage of questions reduced from 8% to 7% =  14 questions

No new tasks added or significantly changed.

The knowledge and skills required for this domain have been revised but basically cover the same capabilities.

Cross Cutting Knowledge and Skills

Cross cutting knowledge and skills are capabilities required by a project manager in all of the domains.  This areas of the RDS has been increased significantly.  The full list of knowledge and skills is
(* = included in previous RDS):
1.   Active Listening*
2.   Applicable laws and regulations
3.   Benefits realization
4.   Brainstorming techniques*
5.   Business acumen
6.   Change management techniques
7.   Coaching, mentoring, training, and motivational techniques
8.   Communication channels, tools, techniques, and methods*
9.   Configuration management
10. Conflict resolution*
11. Customer satisfaction metrics
12. Data gathering techniques*
13. Decision making*
14. Delegation techniques
15. Diversity and cultural sensitivity*
16. Emotional intelligence
17. Expert judgment technique
18. Facilitation*
19. Generational sensitivity and diversity
20. Information management tools, techniques, and methods*
21. Interpersonal skills
22. Knowledge management
23. Leadership tools, techniques, and skills*
24. Lessons learned management techniques
25. Meeting management techniques
26. Negotiating and influencing techniques and skills*
27. Organizational and operational awareness
28. Peer-review processes
29. Presentation tools and techniques*
30. Prioritization/time management*
31. Problem-solving tools and techniques*
32. Project finance principles
33. Quality assurance and control techniques
34. Relationship management*
35. Risk assessment techniques
36. Situational awareness
37. Stakeholder management techniques*
38. Team-building techniques*
39. Virtual/remote team management

Two skills that have been dropped are knowledge of:
–  PMI’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
(although this continues to have a major influence on the approach PMI
     expects project managers to adopt in the exam and the ‘real world’).
–  Project Management Software

The effect on the exam

PMI have advised that 25% of exam content will be new, focused on new topic areas (ie, the eight new tasks) added to examination, in addition, many other questions will be updated to reflect changes in the descriptions of tasks and changes in the underpinning skills and knowledge requirements.  We will be updating our materials from September 2015 to take these changes into account. Fortunately a large percentage of the ‘new’ materials from the RDS are already part of our PMP course (because we felt they were essentially good practice) or in other training courses we offer – overall this update makes very good sense.

Many aspects of the PMP exam are not changing including the eligibility requirements, formal training requirements, the passing score (which remains secret) and the design of the questions, many of which are scenario based seeking information on what should you do.

There is no change to other PMI exams, the CAPM, PMI-SP and other credentials remain unaltered.

Will there be more changes?

The sort answer if ‘yes’! Changes in the RDS occur every 3 to 5 years and as a consequence, the exam content outline changes, new topics are added, and shift in weighting occur.

In addition, the PMP exam also changes when the PMBOK® Guide is update (this is due in 2017). Changes in the PMBOK® Guide cause changes in terminology, changes to elements of process groups and exam questions are changed to reflect these alterations. However, many other references are used to create PMP content in addition to the PMBOK,  and if the PMBOK has contents not reflected in the RDS this section not examined.

So moving forward, the current version of the exam is active until 1st Nov. 2015; the new version of the exam is available from 2nd Nov. 2015, and the next change will be in mid-to-late 2017.

For this change, there is no change over period (including for re-sits) – the ‘old’ exam applies up until the 1st, the new exam from the 2nd November.  Both before and after the change, your exam results available immediately if you take a computer based test.  For more on the current examination, fees, eligibility requirement, etc, see: http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/pmp-training-melbourne/.

A different set of changes has been announced for the PMI-ACP (Agile) credential (visit the PMI website for more details).

PMI have also announced changes to the way PDUs are earned as part of their Continuing Certification Requirement (CCR) program, effective from the 1st December 2015.  For more on this change see: https://mosaicprojects.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/pmi-pdu-update/

The Elements of Stakeholder Engagement

Effective stakeholder engagement is a two-way interactive relationship that encourages stakeholder involvement in the organisation for the benefit of both the stakeholders and the organisation.  The trend is increasingly clear; organisations that effectively serve the needs of their stakeholders outperform those that do not.

However, what is also apparent is confusion on the part of many managers as to precisely what stakeholder engagement is, and what systems facilitate effective stakeholder engagement.  This post suggests there are three basic systems that together form the foundation for effective stakeholder engagement in most organisations, but the foundations are just that, necessary underpinnings, stakeholder engagement itself rises above the foundations to create an entirely new way of engaging with stakeholders. Let’s start with a look at the three basic components:

Stakeholder Engagement

PR = Public Relations

PR is probably the oldest of the three foundations (particularly if you include advertising within the overall ambit of PR).  For thousands of years people and organisations with something to sell to ‘the public’ have recognised the need to tell potential customers about their offering and suggest there is a good reason for the potential customer to become an actual customer or client.

Camel Market

Smart merchants realised they needed to give potential customers a reason for doing business with them (rather than someone else) and that competing on price alone was not a good move in a crowded market place.

The role of advertising is in part to make potential customers aware of your offering and in part to create a desire for the type of goods or services you are providing. Effective advertising creates a ‘call to action’ which the customer heeds.

Public Relations (PR) has a different focus.  Good PR is built around creating a positive image of the organisation in the minds of its wider stakeholder community. PR is not directly aligned to sales in the way advertising is, but does seek to make the organisation appear to be one that most stakeholders in its target audience will want to be associated with.  This may be because of exclusivity, or status, because the organisation is seen to be ‘good’, or for any one of a dozen other reasons.  Effective PR has many purposes including:

  • Underpinning its advertising by creating a ‘good first impression’ of the organisation, thereby allowing the stakeholder to take note of its advertising.
  • Explaining the value of the organisation to a wider community minimising resistance to the functioning of the organisation and facilitating its operations.
  • Making the organisation appear to be a desirable ‘citizen’ within its community; etc.

Good PR is of course authentic and reflective of the true nature of the organisation, in the modern age ‘spin’ is easily uncovered and can be very damaging.

The fundamental nature of both PR and advertising is ‘push’ communication – the organisation pushes its message out to the wider community, hopes someone listens, and then measures its impact after the event with a view to improving the ‘message’ and the effect.

 

CRM = Customer Relationship Management

CRM is focused on providing a great experience to every customer.  The commercial driver for CRM is in part the generally accepted fact that it is far cheaper to retain an existing customer then to attract a new one and in part from a win-win view that the ability to quickly and efficiently service the unique needs of each customer reduces the transaction costs for the organisation.

Customers or clients are clearly stakeholders with a significant interest in the organisation, so focusing effort on providing them with the best possible level of service, delivered quickly and efficiently is a win-win outcome. Happy customers are more likely to recommend an organisation to their friends and colleagues as well as becoming regular clients of the organisation.

Unfortunately the concept of CRM seems to have been hijacked by software systems, overseas call centres and ‘big data’; bought with a view to ‘reducing costs’.  There’s nothing wrong with any of these concepts provided the outcome is improved customer service. Where the outcome is a reduction in service, any cost savings are likely to be offset by reduced business and the cost of attracting new customers to replace the ones lost by poor service.

Whilst CRM at its best is interactive and focused on a win-win outcome for both the organisation and its stakeholders, the stakeholders directly affected by CRM are limited to the organisations customers and clients.

 

Stakeholder Management

Stakeholder management is process focused; it involves planned interaction with a wider stakeholder community, both to manage the consequences of any crisis as well as providing information and facilitating two-way communication with key stakeholders.

Good stakeholder management is a proactive process, focused on facilitating regular communication and anticipating needs, issues and problems that are likely to arise within the stakeholder community. Tools and methodologies such as the Stakeholder Circle® are designed to facilitate efficient stakeholder management. Stakeholders are identified, there needs assesses and their relative importance determined. Based on this assessment, communication and other interactions are initiated to gather the support and assistance needed by the organisation and to head off or minimise any threats or problems.

The focus of stakeholder management tends to be ‘defensive’, and is aimed at creating the best possible stakeholder environment to allow the organisation to do its work efficiently   The process is interactive, seeking to engage constructively with the organisations stakeholders and looking for win-win outcomes that benefit the organisation and the stakeholder, but is driven by the organisation, from the perspective of the organisation.

 

Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement builds on these three foundations (particularly ‘stakeholder management’) to create a different paradigm.  Stakeholders are encouraged to actively engage with the organisation and contribute to its growth and development whilst at the same time the organisation and its staff engage with their community through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives and the like. These engagement processes build a strong, two-way relationship in which the stakeholders and the organisation work together to build a common future that is both mutually desirable and beneficial.  I will be writing about stakeholder engagement in a future post.

 

Conclusion

The three foundations of Stakeholder Engagement: ‘Stakeholder Management’, CRM and PR are quite different processes focused on achieving different outcomes.  In a well managed organisation all three functions work together to crate a supportive stakeholder environment and a successful organisation. However, whilst the systems need to be aligned and compatible they are very different and should not be confused.

In particular CRM and Stakeholder Management systems have very different objectives, focus on quite different stakeholder groupings, need significantly different information sets, and have very different measures of success:

  • CRM focuses on customers (or clients). Whilst customers as a ‘class’ of stakeholder are important, generally an individual customer is not. The focus of a CRM system is managing large amounts of data to provide ‘all customers’ with a generically ‘good’, potentially ‘tailored’ experience.
  • Stakeholder Management focuses on indentifying the key stakeholders ‘at this point in time’ that require specific management focus as well as the wider group of stakeholders that need to be engaged (or at least watched). In most situations very few individual clients or customers would be sufficiently important to feature in this list, but there will be lots of stakeholders who are highly unlikely to ever become ‘customers’, for example suppliers and competitors.

The shift to ‘stakeholder engagement’ does not add new systems but does require a paradigm shift in thinking. The key element of stakeholder engagement is opening up to the ‘right stakeholders’ and either inviting them into the organisation, or reaching out to them, to help create a mutually beneficial future – more on this later.

New Articles posted to the Web #30

BeaverWe have been busy beavers updating the PM Knowledge Index on our website with White Papers and Articles.   Some of the more interesting uploaded during the last couple of weeks include:

And we continue to tweet a free PMI style of exam question every day for PMP, CAPM and PMI-SP candidates: See today’s question and then click through for the answer and the Q&As from last week. You are welcome to download and use the information under our Creative Commons licence

The Guild of Project Controls – free Beta Test Examination

The Guild is calling for employers / companies to open up their office or conference room on Wednesday the 5th August 2015 and to supply a minimum of 10 junior level planning & scheduling candidates who have approximately 1 to 3 year’s planning / scheduling experience to sit the beta version of the Foundation Level Certification in Planning & Scheduling examination and set a world-wide benchmark.

If you are interested, read more at: http://www.pgcs.org.au/about/news/