Monthly Archives: December 2008

PMOZ Program Update

PMOZ

PMOZ

PMOZ will introduce a new, interesting and dynamic program for the 2009 conference to be held in Canberra, Australia from August 11-13.

The elements to be included in the program structure are:

  • The core of the program will be pairs of selected papers from academia and industry practitioners, each paper will be 45 minutes (total session time 90 minutes). These sessions will be immediately before and after lunch; streamed by industry and focus.
  • 60 minute Keynote and locknote presentations from internationally recognised experts, at the beginning and end of each day.
  • 30 minute ‘quick hits’ briefings, updates and short papers focused on points of interest.
  • 90 minute mini-workshops, including skill development for advanced practitioners and foundation sessions focused on core PM skills
  • Half day pre-conference workshops.

The final shape of the program will evolve based on responses to the Call for Papers and the requirements of our keynote speakers. Check back here for details of keynote speakers, workshop presenters and later, accepted session speakers. 

For additional information:
PMOZ – August 11-13, 2009 [www.pmoz.com.au]

Surviving the credit crunch

Depending on where you are in the world your economy is either in recession or sinking towards recession, with only a few exceptions such as China where growth has merely slowed to a moderate rate of expansion.

However, after more than 20 years running SMEs (small to medium enterprises) I definitely feel the doom and gloom in the press is greatly exaggerated. To a very great extent, it’s when the going gets tough, the tough get going! Not to build empires, but to position themselves for the inevitable upswing.

This blog is written from the perspective of sole contractors and small professional consultancies and is very much what we are doing in Mosaic Project Services to win through yet another downturn. It’s rather long, but I hope you find it useful.

Unemployment

The first thing to consider is unemployment. In a recession unemployment tends to double and the number of people ‘not seeking work’ also increases. In Australia this means rising from the 2% to 3% range to maybe 4% to 6% an increase of some 4% at the maximum. Double this again for the number of people on the margins ‘not seeking work’ and you could say 8% of people who are likely to have a job in good times won’t have one in a recession. This suggests around 92% of people who are likely to have a job in ‘good times’ still have a job in bad times. Therefore as an individual contractor or small business your challenge is to make sure you are part of the 90% still working – looks at this way, the challenge is not so hard.

Cash Flow

The next issue is cash flow. In the good times we all ran up too much credit and the temptation is to eliminate debt. The bad news is that now is a bit too late! There are several challenges to consider in order:

  • The first issue is to minimise fixed outgoings (these are the real break points if your income stops for a period)
  • The second is to build up some cash reserves or liquid assets (essential to cover ‘fixed outgoings’ if you income stops for a period)
  • Only then should you consider major debt reductions. Remember, one of the good points in a recession is interest rates drop.

We are not in a position to offer financial advice but we have noticed it is much easier to re-engineer your finance if you still have a job and with proper advice there are a range of opportunities ‘out there’ because the banks and card companies are chasing business as well.

Maintaining an income is the other side of cash flow management. This requires a careful balancing act……

  • Most employers / clients are feeling the squeeze and will employ the ‘golden rule’ (He who has the gold makes the rules). Don’t let your pride stand in the way of negotiating a rate cut but at the same time make sure you are still being paid at the ‘right rate’ for today’s climate.
  • If you are between contracts make sure the rates you are asking for are consistent with ‘today’s market’. Yesterday has gone and tomorrows rates are likely to be lower still.

Keeping a Job

‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ – a moderately paying job now is worth more than the possibility of a higher paying job later. Consider this simple equation: if you turn down a job today at $650 because you feel you are worth $700 per day minimum and eventually after 4 weeks you are successful and win the $700 job you will have foregone 20 days at $650 = $13,000. This means you will be working for the first 260 days in the $700 job before you break even with the income you would have earned at $650 per day. This is 1 year’s work (52 weeks) and in a recession most contracts are for 6 months or less. To make matters worse, if at the end of the day you take a job at $650 or even $600 you never make up the lost income. Unfortunately, the business world will be well into recovery before contract rates start to rise significantly.

Marketing

Keep on marketing. The competition to keep your existing contracts or win new work in a recession is definitely more intense. To keep in front of the pack and minimise reductions in your contract rates you have to be offering a ‘better package’ to employers and really be out there selling your capabilities.

Most jobs go to people who know people they are never advertised, the approximate ratio in ‘normal times’ is 80% to 20%. The reason job ads drop so dramatically in a recession is the fact most businesses can easily fill most jobs by word of mouth and personal contacts. A certain proportion are obliged to advertise (eg, governments) but if there’s no policy in place mandating advertisements, businesses won’t wast money.

The answer to winning jobs before they go to market is networking. Attend meetings, attend workshops and conferences, catch up with old colleagues and be seen. There are two critical rules to networking.

  • Start before you need your network and keep networking
  • Add value to the network. You must contribute as well as take from the overall network; no one likes a sponge who soaks up everything for his/her self.

There are lots of websites with hints on networking – do your homework.

Developing a ‘better package’ for both individual contractors, and consultants running small businesses, has a range of facets:

  • Qualifications help. Organisations have to filter 100s of applicants for each job; the easiest first step is to discount ‘unqualified’ people. More importantly acquiring a relevant qualification shows a willingness to invest in your future. Many employers will read this as a strong positive indicator of your overall willingness to maintain a positive approach to your career.
  • Be seen as a useful expert. Useful experts contribute practical assistance to their peers and industry. Write papers, mentor colleagues, assist on committees, etc.
  • Be easy to find. People won’t ring back in a recession, email, telephone, social network sites, etc all help you to be easy to find and you distribute these contacts via every reasonable means.
  • Have a strong brand. People need to know who you are and what you (or your business) stand for. Reputation really matters.
  • Be flexible. Make sure your skills are transferable and within reason you are ‘transferable’ and can go where the work is. This may not be ideal but maintaining an income matters.

A last thought is to strap on your parachute on before you are asked to jump. Almost every item discussed above and particularly networking is easier if you are in a job. Certainly in my experience it is always easier to find another job when you have one. The challenge is to ethically manage your career and survival through the next few months; reputations matter in good times and bad.

The good news is if you manage all of this and come through the recession successfully, you will be ideally positioned to take advantage of the next growth phase and accelerate your career to new heights.

Good luck and good networking.

Interesting Blogs

PMI have started two interesting blogs that are worth a read…..

http://blogs.pmi.org/blog/a_chief_executives_perspective_on_project_management – posted by Gregory Balestrero, President and CEO of the Project Management Institute. Personal insights from one of the few world leaders in project management.

http://blogs.pmi.org/blog/voices_on_project_management – posts from a wide range of PMI members managers and others covering a whole variety of topics.

If you are interested in PM, these are definitely worth a read.

PMOZ Call for Papers

PMOZ

PMOZ

PMOZ 2009 will be held at the Australian National Convention Centre, Canberra, from the 10th to 12th August. Co-located with ISSEC (Improving Systems Software Engineering Conference) and incorporating the PMI Australia National Conference, delegates and speakers can access two conference programs in the same registration fee.

PMOZ is Australia’s leading annual Portfolio, Program and Project Management Conference and is an integral part of the Project Management calendar, offering long term commitment to the advancement of the profession and industry with support from all sectors – ICT, Business, Engineering, Construction and Academia.

The call for papers is seeking high quality presentations focusing on a sustainable future and the role of project management in creating this, as well as the sustainability of the project management profession during this time of rapid change. PMOZ 2009 will provide a valuable opportunity for project management practitioners, researchers and academics to share and explore their ideas and approaches with their peers.

Download the Call for Paper Brochure

or

Visit the PMOZ web site

Updates to the PMBOK® Guide and CAPM Exam

On the 31st December 2008, PMI will be launching new versions of their standards for Portfolio, Program and Project management, and the Organizational Project Management Maturity Model® (OPM3®). The new standards reflect the evolving knowledge within the profession of project management and, like previous editions, represents generally recognised good practice in the profession. A brief overview of the changes are:

  • The weight given to ‘Organisation Enablers’ in the OPM3 standard has increased in recognition of the critical role the culture and capability of the ‘organisation’ has in allowing its projects to be executed effectively.
  • The Standard for Portfolio Management – Second Edition has its focus on ‘selecting the right work to do’ (alignment) and introduces a focus on ‘Governance’ and ‘Portfolio Risk Management’. These changes place an emphasis on effective investment and risk management and an increased focus on delivering results from the organisation’s projects and programs.
  • The Standard for Program Management – Second Edition has clearly differentiated the role of program management from project management.

Changes in the PMBOK® Guide—Fourth Edition

The Fourth Edition reflects a focus on improved consistency and clarity. Great consideration was given by the project teams developing the standard to remove redundant information and add clarifying statements where needed. Terminology was updated only to present process names consistently in a verb-noun format. The differences between the Third Edition and the Fourth Edition are summarised below:

  • All process names are in a verb-noun format
  • Enterprise Environmental Factors were more clearly defined to avoid confusion with Organizational Process Assets.
  • A standard approach for discussing requested changes, preventive actions, corrective actions and defect repairs was employed.
  • The processes decreased from 44 to 42. Two processes were deleted, two processes were added and 6 processes were reconfigured into 4 processes in the procurement Knowledge Area. Despite these changes, the underlying actions were generally moved or consolidated rather than added or deleted.
  • To provide clarity a distinction was made between the project management plan and project documents used to manage the project.
  • The distinction between the information in the Project Charter and the Project Scope Statement was clarified.
  • The process flow diagrams at the beginning of chapters 4-12 have been deleted and replaced with data flow diagrams.
  • A data flow diagram for each process has been created.
  • A new appendix was added that addresses key interpersonal skills that a project manager utilizes when managing a project.
  • The triple constraint which is mentioned in the introduction of the PMBOK® Guide —Third Edition has been expanded to include other potential constraints including: quality, resources and risk. Since each project is unique it is possible some projects may not be affected by all potential constraints.
  • The role and importance of ‘stakeholders’ has been recognised along with a shift from the impossible idea of ‘controlling’ stakeholders to a more realistic objective of  ‘managing’ stakeholders. Given our long standing interest in Stakeholder Management, we find this last change particularly pleasing. 

Changes in the CAPM Exam

The CAPM exam is based exclusively on the contents of the PMBOK® Guide and will change on the 31st July 2009. Up to this date, the exam will be based on the 3rd Edition, from the 1st August 2009 on the PMBOK® Guide 4th Edition.

Mosaic and other PMI accredited R.E.P.s already have access to the 4th Edition and we will be updating our CAPM course materials over then next few months.  Given our particular mix of courses ranging from 4 day intensive through to our self-paced Mentored Email™ course which takes most students around 3 to 4 months to complete we are planning to have both courses ‘live’ through the first part of 2009.

If you are planning on taking your CAPM exam make sure you ask your trainer about the version of the course they are offering (PMBOK® Guide 3rd or 4th Edition?) -v- the date you are planning to sit your exam.