Getting Started in Project Management

Project management, the process of guiding a project from the beginning through the middle to the end is indeed very taxing. This is because the project manager coordinates other professionals to achieve results. It is therefore a big intellectual relief that Paula Martin and Karen Tate, two project management experts, have proffered a solution in this text entitled “Getting Started in Project Management”.Martin is the chief executive officer of MartinTate, a management consulting and training company. Martin is the co-author of six books. She works with project teams to help them improve on performance. Martin has been a consultant on issues related to improving organisational performance for more than ten years.Tate is the president of MartinTate as well as a project management professional. She has more than 20 years of project management experience and teaches project management to teams in organisations around the world. According to Martin and Tate, project management is a valuable component of both professional and personal life.They educate that whether you are working on an international project for a Fortune 500 company or organising a family reunion, project management is essential to ensuring timely and efficient completion of any project.Martin and Tate remark that if you are new to project management, you are definitely not alone. They say lots of people are discovering that project management is a tool that can help make their projects more successful.These authors illuminate that for many people, working on a project can be frustrating as team members refuse to agree on what should be done or how to do it and deadlines are missed. Martin and Tate however stress that projects can be both fun and successful if you use an effective method for helping your work through the steps of the project.Using their Collaborative, Open architecture, Results-oriented and Easy-to-use Project Management methodology called “CORE Project Management methodology” for short, these authors offer a foundation for anyone willing to learn or enhance his or her project management skills.Martin and Tate identify four phases of project management as project initiation, planning, execution and close-out. They say besides outlining the project management process, this text teaches you how to utilise the tools that drive it.
Martin and Tate submit that you will also learn in this text, the seven keys to project management success; different approaches to the process; how to assess risk and avoid pitfalls by identifying them early; scheduling and budgeting techniques that will keep your project on time and on the money.Structurally, this text is segmented into 14 chapters. Chapter one is entitled “The basics”. According to these authors here, before we can begin our journey through the land of project management, we need to cover a few basics. The first question we need to address is, “What exactly is project?” In the words of these authors, “For example, is building a custom house a project? What if you’re a developer and you have a crew that builds a standard house over and over again? Is that a project?”Martin and Tate say obviously, projects and business processes are not the same thing. They educate that project management is a set of tools, techniques and knowledge that, when applied, will help you produce better results for your project. Martin and Tate add that trying to manage a project without project management is like trying to play football without a game plan. “The coach would get the players together and say, ‘How should we play this game? We’re supposed to get more points than the other team and to do that we have to score goals. Now everyone go out and do what you think needs to be done in order to win’,” stress these experts.Chapter two is based on the subject matter of initiating a project. Here, these authors educate that the first phase of a project, which is called “initiation”, begins after management decides to authorise the project. According to them, the goal of initiation is to set the direction for your project and define any constraints on the project.They add that both project direction and constraints should come from the sponsor, because the sponsor is the management person who is accountable for ensuring that the project meets the strategic goals of the organisation and that the benefits of the project outweigh its costs. Martin and Tate say the direction and constraints for the project are outlined in a document called the “charter” and this document is the responsibility of the sponsor.They add that however, many sponsors either do not know how to write a charter or claim not to have the time to do so. Martin and Tate say as a result, it is very probable that you will find yourself writing the charter for the sponsor and then have the sponsor review and approve it when you are through.These authors stress that in the customer-needs section of your charter, you are trying to define the real reason why the project is being undertaken for the customers.In chapters three to nine, Martin and Tate examine concepts such as leading the project team; kicking off the project; planning the scope; organising the project; assessing risk; developing a schedule and developing a budget.Chapter 10 is entitled “Assembling the project plan”. According to these authors, after the planning activities, it is time to assemble the plan. Martin and Tate add that the project plan is the output of the planning phase. They educate that it captures the information you have compiled with the team and lays out how the project will be executed. In their words, “If the charter represents the expectations and wishes for the project, the project plan represents the projected reality. Therefore, it’s the plan that you will use to guide the project as you move forward into execution.”These experts also discuss the scope plan. They educate that the scope plan defines what will be produced for the customers, adding that in order to produce the final deliverable, you have to organise the work of the project. Martin and Tate say you need to break down the final deliverable into interim deliverables and someone in the team is assigned accountability for each one.They add that then, you define the sub-projects and assign each deliverable to a sub-project. These experts guide that finally, you need to make sure you have the right people in the team. They stress that you now assess the skills you need to create the deliverables and review your list of stakeholders to make sure they have representation in the team or a team member liaison assigned to keep them involved in the project.In chapters 11 to 14, Martin and Tate analytically X-ray concepts such as team-based tools; executing the plan; closing out the project and summing up.Stylistically, this text is fantastic. The language is simple, embroidered with standard punctuation while the 14 chapters are brilliantly handled. What’s more, Martin and Tate make use of an acronym by collapsing their Collaborative, Open architecture, Results-oriented and Easy-to-use Project Management Methodology into CORE Project Management Methodology for short. This is a conceptual amplification and creative structural compression. They employ graphics, especially the one on the outside front cover, to achieve visual enhancement of readers’ understanding. The layout of the text is also visually appealing.However, some concepts are repeated in this text. Probably these authors deliberately use this style to create emphasis and ensure long memory on readers’ part. It is also written in Standard American English. That is why you have “…someone on the team…” (page 156), instead of the Standard British English “…Someone in the team…”, etc.On a note of analytical finality, this text is intellectually revealing. It is a must-read for those who want to achieve success in project implementation.

7 Game-Changing Marketing Trends You Need To Know About

Over the last few years, technology has changed a lot. The pace of change in technology is very fast. It is getting even more difficult for marketing firms to keep up with this change in technology. So what kind of technological change should you expect soon? You need to be prepared for these upcoming changes. Here are some, coming very soon:1. Relationship MarketingRelationship marketing is also known as customer relationship management (CRM). It is focused on long-term engagement and relationships with the customers instead of short term relations. The aim of relationship marketing is to emotionally engage customers with the brands. This leads to free word of mouth marketing and loyalty. It is different from traditional marketing approach because it is not focused on individual profit generation.2. Marketing AutomationMarket automation refers to the latest technologies and software that are designed for marketing departments. These software and online channels are used to promote products at different platforms like emails, blogs, social media and websites.3. Location-Based Marketing TechnologyThe location-based technology uses mobile phone location for marketing the products. It is another direct marketing strategy. An opt-in is usually activated to process this type of marketing. What actually happens is that when opt-in is activated it starts tracking the location of device holder and sends a text about nearby product or service which is available. This includes any free coupon schemes or any discount deals. This technology actually bridges the physical gap between customers and the available products in their nearby places.4. Virtual RealityOne of the most prominent marketing strategies that should be utilized by every marketer is virtual reality. Virtual reality artificially creates sensory experiences. It can be aimed at sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch. It is used in the depiction of business products, games, movies, and arts.5. Ephemeral MarketingSnapchat is one of the best examples of ephemeral marketing. It is one of the latest leaps in technological development. Marketing firms and businesses can use it for their own benefit. Ephemeral marketing means providing something to the customers for a very short period of time. This has many advantages. For instance, when discounts and special offers are announced like this for a limited time period it will enhance the excitement of customers. Similarly giving a sneak peek of the new product, which is not yet launched in the market, could also increase the excitement of people. In this way, people will be more attracted towards the product.6. Search Past Search EnginesMany social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are trying to create their own search engines. It will also boost the marketing opportunities for the marketers so they need to be prepared for this change.7. The Internet of ThingsInternet of things is actually a network of physical objects. For instance vehicles, devices, buildings etc. which are electronically connected with each other. For marketers, it means that their data is more easily accessible to the customers so they can market their products more efficiently.

Top 3 Reasons Small Businesses Fail at Marketing

I often speak to groups of small business owners and I keep hearing the same comment over and over again with many of them saying that marketers don’t matter or marketing doesn’t matter anymore.There are many reasons I’ve heard as to why marketing doesn’t matter: “all my business comes by referral,” “I never spent money on marketing and my business grew,” “marketing is a waste of money,” “I see no value in marketing,” “marketing is all luck so why spend money on it,” and so on.Oh, how they are so very wrong! Below are the top 3 reasons why:1. Their definition of marketing is wrongWhen business owners tell me that marketing doesn’t matter, they usually have a totally different understanding of what marketing is than those who recognise how marketing contributes to business goals where it enables you to charge the most money you can for your services and products.Marketing is first about spending time building a solid foundation based on strategy before proposing a series of tactics aimed at lifting sales. Until the business finds a way to change the context of how their ideal customer views what they do, and then becomes become the obvious choice provider, they’ll find that their marketing efforts never seem to build momentum or gain any return on investment.You must be able to enter the conversation taking place in the head of your customers. Or, to look at it in a different way, to be able to address the number one question on your customer’s mind at exactly the right time.So, how do you do this? The conversation that is taking place in every prospective customer’s mind revolves around two major points. There is a problem they have, and that they don’t want… and there is a result that they want, and they don’t have.Those who often misunderstand marketing believe that it is only about advertising campaigns, brochures, flyers, website, email marketing, SEO, tradeshows, social media, copy, etc. These are the tactics – the way you implement your marketing. I’d argue that marketing is essentially the core of business strategy because it is about understanding the current customer, tapping into their fears, their goals and their aspirations and then creating products and services that the ideal customer is willing to buy from a brand they now they know, like and trust.2. They believe either they or their co-worker can do itSometimes in the “do it all yourself” world of small business (or even big business when it comes to it), it’s difficult to identify the areas that require outside help. A business may be able to set up their newsletter, add plugins to WordPress, write a Facebook or LinkedIn post, and clumsily create header graphics, but you need somebody who is trained, practiced, and skilled at looking strategically and holistically at the marketplace, understanding the customer, and then creating unique opportunities based on this understanding.Just think about it for a minute; just because you have a calculator and excel does that mean you are an accountant? If you have a ruler, pencil and have watched some episodes of Grand Designs – does that make you an architect? If you post regularly to your friends on Facebook and Instagram – does that mean you are a social media expert?So why do small businesses believe that by buying a Mac and some software they will become a designer, marketer and communications expert?It needs to be led by a strategic marketer who can then develop an integrated marketing approach. Can you or your co-worker do this? In some cases, you can. But those who can are most likely to either come from marketing or consulting backgrounds where they have transferable skills and experience defining AND delivering against a growth strategy.If you are a small business, you need somebody who will have a very solid, process, streamlined, consistent, repeatable approach. First, they will research and learn about your company in great depth, the dynamics of the marketplace and identify shifts, trends, and changes. From there, the strategic marketer will be able to present the different elements of your marketing plan in logical order of how you should construct them, update them, or revise them; and identify the key areas you should be focusing on – be it generating leads, converting leads, increasing transactions right down to changing prices.3. They hire the wrong marketing helpThere is a huge misunderstanding around marketing strategy, marketing tactics, and marketing execution.There is a difference between being strategically capable, creatively capable and executionally capable.Small business owners don’t hire a strategic marketing coach/firm to develop creative graphics and headers; nor should you hire an advertising/graphic design agency to handle marketing strategy. A small business doesn’t need to hire a consultant or a firm who is a strong marketing executor when their biggest need is a strategy for sustainable growth. You may get more attention, but not the best results.

10 Steps on How to Develop a Business Properly

(A Business Development Manager’s Point of View)

So you want to develop a business, huh? Well, you’re just in luck. This article will help you whether you are planning to start up new or have an existing business that you would like to expand. This is a step by step guide on how to start, improve, and expand a business while minimizing loss on your part. If you are starting new, please read this article carefully from the very beginning. For those, who already have an existing business and would like to improve or expand, the latter part of the article will be more useful.

Every business starts with an idea. You will find that throughout the article, I have emphasized the mental aspects of people rather than physical or financial aspects. Call me philosophical, but the mind is where everything happens. I have seen and experienced it time and time. When your mind is fully committed, there is literally nothing that you cannot do. Let’s begin.

Step 01: Find Your Passion

To start a business, you need to find out what it is that you are truly passionate about. “Why is that important”, you say? The answer is simple. You really do not want to get yourself stuck into a kind of work that you hate. There are plenty of planning and executing involved in a brand new business and if you are passionate about it, they would not feel like work at all compared to a kind of business you do not care for. After all, happiness is the end result of anything that we do in life. Why not choose a business that would make you happy while doing it?

“When your vacation becomes your vocation, you have succeeded in life”.

Step 02: How to Sell It

Now that you have found your passion, let us figure out how to use it to bill people who are in need of the kind of service you can provide. Even though yours is the most ridiculous passion ever, believe me, there are millions of people who would be glad to have your services. As a matter of fact the stranger and more unique your passion is, the more likely you are to succeed simply because that type of business doesn’t exist yet. That also doesn’t mean that if your passion is something common or usual, you shouldn’t do it. Even if it is something common, if you really love it, you will always find ways to do things differently than the others and that itself is the winner.

Let’s say that you are passionate about cars. You are more likely to succeed in an auto shop, auto parts shop, or a repair and modification shop. Sure, there are plenty of those out there, but if you love it, it is going to be one of a kind. Maybe your shop has a nice waiting area where your customers can have a seat and a free beverage when they come to drop off or pick up a car, or you may have free stickers complementary to having their breaks fixed. Once you’re in the business, you’ll figure that out.

Step 03: The Planning

Write down your unique ideas and prepare a presentation. Take some time to do it. You should not rush this part. If a new idea comes while you are in the middle of the planning stage, do not hesitate to change. Edit and modify until you are fully satisfied and you can see a clear mental picture of your business. I cannot emphasize how important this is. You have to be absolutely clear and certain. If there are parts that are hazy, leave for a while, do something else, and come back to the planning table again when your mind is clear. You will see later how we will reuse this step over and over again.

A thing to remember here is that I am not talking about the “Hows”. At this point, you’re not thinking how you will start the business. That will come later. Your focus at this stage is the “Whats”. If you start thinking about the “Hows”, you will ruin your plan because you will start to think about things such as “How do I get the capital”, “How am I going to find an ideal place” etc. The “Hows” will show up later when you are clear about the “Whats”.

Step 04: Visualize Your Success

Now that you have had the clear picture of your business, visualize how it would look and feel when it is fully operational and successful. You must be able to taste the success. This again is another important stage. Why-you ask? There will be obstacles on your way to success. This is the picture that will keep you going. It will also help keep your team motivated in the future should you need to inspire them in times of hardship. You, the leader, must have that picture of success handy at all times.

Step 05: The Needs

You are clear about what your business will be and you have a clear picture of success. By now, you are mentally ready, so let’s get physical. The physical needs of the business include 3 things: infrastructure, personnel, and finance.

Infrastructure: If your business is local such as an auto repair shop, you will need a space, an office, a storage area, and some furniture. If your business is virtual, you will need a website or other computer based applications. In any case, you have the clear picture (Step 03), so you can create a list of infrastructural needs.

Personnel: If it is a kind of business that you can do totally on your own, then you are it. If not, you are going to need assistance. Use Step 03, and find out how many people you will need and what their jobs and qualifications should be. You may also look among your friends, relatives and acquaintances that may have those qualifications and would be happy to help you in the beginning. Having a good friend or partner at this stage is very helpful. If you have a friend who shares almost the same vision as you, you have hit the jackpot. Things are a lot easier with a good friend beside.

Finance: This part is slightly uncomfortable for a lot of people. For this reason, a lot of great ideas never see the light of the day. Many would give up at this sector because they believe there is no money. If you feel that, please remember that the financial industry was built on great ideas. It is their purpose to invest. How else do you think the Empire State Building was built? One person didn’t put all his money into it. The idea was great and was simply backed by several financial institutions. The truth is there are numerous banks, lending agencies, and investors who are looking for a great idea to invest in.

However, ideally you, as the owner of the business, should have at least half the initial capital you need. If you are currently in a job, you can start saving up. If you already have the money, begin at once. If you do not have anything, use your Step 03 presentation to attract a wealthy relative, friend or an investor.

I have mentioned in the beginning of the article how important the mental aspects of the people are. I would like to elaborate on this a little bit more since finance is a huge issue. Fear is your only true enemy here. This is the only one thing that you have to overcome, and you have to face it no matter what. I will help you with a few tips on how to do it, but you have to walk this path.

First of all, it is okay to be afraid. It is a part of who we are. Just remember that “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is having fear and still doing the thing you are afraid of”. In other words, FACE IT. After all, “At the end of our lives, we only regret things we haven’t done or chances we haven’t taken”. What is the worst that could happen? We all die, and it is better to die quickly doing something we love than live a long boring life doing things that are safe and comfortable. Use Step 04 and have that taste of success, and get out there. Here are a few types of fear that you may have and how to overcome them:

Fear of Rejection: Yes, you will be rejected. Not a lot of people would understand what it is you are trying to do, so do not take it personally, and move on to the next. When you do your presentation, prepare your best and do it with passion. People invest in sincerity. I know I would. I would invest my own money if I saw a person who was genuinely passionate about a project even though I didn’t understand the business. Why? Because he would not give up on this until successful, so it pays to have your Step 01.

Fear of Loss: There is always a possibility of loss. After all, it is a new business and you do not know all the pits and falls. Trust in yourself that if you make a mistake and have a loss, you will also know how to get out of it. It is your idea, and you know best. Loss will happen when it happens, and you will know what to do then- no need to worry now.

Fear of Embarrassment: Yes, there are those who would always have something to say especially when you are having a hard time. You will be ridiculed and laughed at. However, wouldn’t that be sweeter when you come around triumphant? How could you win if you have never been defeated? Prepare to take the embarrassment and defeat, use Step 04 through these times, and come back a winner. People remember a hero- not an average person.

I hope the tips on fear would help you overcome it. Now that you have found the capital provider/s, there is one thing you should consider. Find an investor who is willing to wait for the business to properly run, which is ideally 6 to 8 months. There are investors, banks or lending agencies that would loan you the money but would want their interests or return of investment (ROI) almost immediately. This is short sighted. A wise investor knows that if the business isn’t fully operational and he starts to claim his money, neither will the business succeed nor will he get his money back. Therefore, choose someone who will wait. That way, the business is safe and the investor gets his full ROI.

Step 06: Start

Find your place, find your personnel, and go for it. Use your partner as a right hand man and divide jobs. One can find a place and buy the furniture and the other can do the hiring. Hire the best quality people you can. Keep in mind that the first set of employees will be your core team, and you must be comfortable working with them. Remember Step 03, so you will know how many people you need and what qualifications they must have.

Step 07: Employees

Make sure everyone knows clearly what they are doing. Create a fair employment policy where good jobs are rewarded. Also, make sure that employees that are not really up to the job are given chances and training before you let them go. It sometimes helps to pair up one good employee with another bad one so that the bad one can learn from the good. You may also create a profit sharing plan. This makes employees take care of your business as if it is their own.

Step 08: Market

Market your business and do it professionally. Once you have established your business, you must reach as many customers as possible. You may ask a professional photographer to take pictures of your facility, and ask a graphic designer to create brochures.

Online presence is also important. Create a good website. It is easy nowadays, but if you have the means, give it to an IT professional. See if you can create an app for smartphones for the services you provide. Offer promotions and discounts on your brochures and website.

Regularly meet your core team to discuss how to improve services or reach more customers. Have an open mind, take all their ideas and pick the ones that best suit you, and execute. These are several ways to market your business: Door to Door Marketing, Telemarketing, SEO, API (Create an app), Advertising.

On my next article, I will solely focus on Marketing Strategies.

Step 09: Expand

Expand your business. You already have one business model now, so all you have to do is copy and paste, so do not refuse a chance to expand. If it is a local business that serves only the local customers, open another branch or start franchising it to other cities. At this point, financing should not be a problem. Plenty of investors and financers will gladly give you the money. If it is an online business, expand your SEO or Customer Support team, and the whole world will be your market.

Step 10: Balance

Last but not least, create balance in everything you do. From the very first step to the last, balance is the key. The lesson on balance is huge, but I will discuss it briefly.

Too much of anything is bad. Do not work so hard that you lose your family, friends or health. After all, money is no good if you cannot share it with people you love, or if you have to spend most of your money in the hospitals. You have to keep the balance between your business and personal life. Also, no good idea can come out of you if you are overworked and tired all the times. When you feel stuck, get away for a while and come back later. You will find a solution.

There are ups and downs in life as well as in business. The lesson on balance also tells us that you should be cautious when you are succeeding and patient when you are failing. When you are succeeding, do not spend money unnecessarily on things you don’t need. Also, when you are failing, do not give up because success is just around the corner. It is the darkest before dawn, so “This too shall pass”.

You must also create a balance between you and your employees. You are their leader. If you are too hard on them, they will quit or even worse sabotage the business. If you are too soft, they will play more than work.

At the end, all businesses are about people. From your employees to your investors to your customers, balance all relationships. Share and enjoy your success.

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