How to solve biggest project management issues

For any business to work, we need to have a proper handle on exactly how workflow operates. This requires an understanding of all aspects of particular projects. By doing so, we facilitate clear dialogue, engagement and understanding. This means we produce the best outcomes and results. This is where project management comes in – but it also, we should consider where it can fail.

Why project management?

It’s important for us to understand precisely what we mean by project management. As Investopedia notes:

”Project management involves planning and organization of a company’s resources to move a specific task, event or duty toward completion. It typically involves a one-time project rather than an ongoing activity…”

With this we can see that not only do we almost always use project management, but why it must be done well. Even if we don’t call our processes leading to completion “project management”, the point is, we’re still doing it. That means we should be doing it correctly – failing to properly manage projects means we fail our business. After all, no clients will want to work with companies who can’t deliver.

The question is how can project management fail us?

Different forms of failure

The first way teams often fail is due to not communicating or having the right information. As Josh Bersin in Forbes notes, modern teams tend to engage on multiple levels with multiple teams.

“People operating in teams and small groups have to work with other teams, and they can’t do this unless goals are clear, overall financial objectives are well communicated, and people know what other people are working on.”

Project management then fails when we aren’t providing teams with the right information or how their work fits into a broader context of the business.

Second, project managers might not have the right balance of strict versus relaxed. To lead requires a proper balance of both traits. If we’re too lenient this could mean our staff’s laziness isn’t addressed and deadlines are missed. If we’re too strict our staff will be more worried about their stress, than getting the work done. Careful balance is required by project leads.

Another way projects fail, often stressed in project management training, is by having impossible time goals. We promise clients projects will be done within an estimated  time that doesn’t take into account reality, but only our hopes. This frustrates everyone: workers, clients and ourselves. Reality must lead our management, not hopes or dreams.

How finance ideas can save the world

We don’t often associate finance with grand ideas like “saving the world”. Yet, if we give it a moment’s thought, we can see why some writers think this. After all, finances are what make the world go around. The negotiation between labour, production and services impacts everyone’s life, after all. Thus, better understanding and engagement with finances as a whole means we can do more to solve various issues in the world.

What does finance affect?

The short answer to what is affected by finance is “everything”. As Investopedia highlights, finance is actually not one singular category.

“‘Finance is a broad term that describes two related activities: the study of how money is managed and the actual process of acquiring needed funds. Because individuals, businesses and government entities all need funding to operate, the field is often separated into three sub-categories: personal finance, corporate finance and public finance.”

Looking at those broad categories, we can see this means every important aspect of any individual’s life. Everyone is affected by how governments manage funds and where those funds go; many people earn money from being employed by companies, meaning they’re affected by how companies manage money; and, finally, how we manage our own money obviously affects us.

Taking any kind of radical approach to any of these three areas would then have an incredible effect on how we manage our lives.

Change the approach to money, change the world

Though it would benefit us all if more people took a finance course for non financial managers, there are ways we can start thinking about money right now. For example, in Forbes, finance expert Joss Tantram says we need consider wealth accumulation.

“Applying [a mechanism that] would naturally discourage people from sitting on money, and encourage its circulation … which would be inherently more useful for the common good.”

There are more methods other writers have considered.

For example, consider “impact investing”. This is focused on investments given to companies or organisations with the aim to generate a measurable, but beneficial social and/or environmental impact with a financial return. Taking this further, the Atlantic notes:

“why not let … investors use newfangled investment vehicles to bet that job training can keep ex-offenders from returning to prison or that transitional housing can reduce the ranks of the chronically homeless?”

Indeed, some governments have long considered the idea of using money to curb crime by incentivising individuals.

Finances matter and are large parts of why the world works the way it does. Changing finances by definition means changing the world – we should, therefore, be considering precisely what the best change should be.

(Image credit: geralt / Pixabay)

Why the secret to great work is great staff

We all want environments where the highest quality work is produced. To create that, however, means setting up goals to achieve it. Sometimes we don’t realise the importance of outlining what our workplaces should be like. Too often, we expect the work to somehow come out perfect each time, with no thought to how our staff operate.

But part of creating excellent work should be creating an environment in which quality can come out. After all, we can’t expect high quality work when various external factors begin preventing staff from operating to their full potential. We are dealing with people, after all.

Stress open communication

One reason why workspaces often fail is due to bad or missed communication. We can see it in basic terms. When working on projects, we could get the wrong information or direction and produce the wrong result. But communication is more than simply conveying instructions. Consider the notion of the “open door” policy: anyone can talk with management, at almost any point, about almost anything.

As Career Partners highlights:

“Policies like this work to make people in an organization feel comfortable expressing open and honest feedback to coworkers and organizational leadership. “

Open communication also allows us to create dynamics showing the impact of everyone’s work on the overall business. In this way, no one is ignorant about what they’re contributing to keeping the business going. Since the business’ continued success is what allows staff to stay employed, this will encourage them to work harder and better – after all, good work means continued work from clients.

Provide benefits

People don’t only work for money. Salaries are means to an end: paying off debt, bills and so on. But we should create a space that allows people to express their creativity and be rewarded for it. We should offer non-monetary “rewards” or benefits, as reasons to stay part of the team. For example, everyone must at some point deal with health issues. Offering to pay for medical expenses or a hospital plan – especially in South Africa – can go far in incentivising people to work for you.

They know their health is one less thing to worry about and can focus on producing high quality work.

Treat them as adults

We should not create a style of management which is equivalent to an all-seeing eye. We should be hiring people who can manage and produce work without being hounded. Indeed, research shows this is counterproductive.

As the Harvard Business Review notes:

“‘Tough’ managers often mistakenly think that putting pressure on employees will increase performance. What it does increase is stress—and research has shown that high levels of stress carry a number of costs to employers and employees alike.”

This doesn’t mean we should be completely hands-off. Only that we should figure out a compromise, which respects employees but doesn’t unnecessarily add to their stress.

(image credit: thetaxhaven/Flickr)

Moving into new office space? What startups need to know

There comes a time in every startup’s journey when it outgrows its first, small office space and needs another. Startups tend to begin their story in bedrooms, garages, attics and basements. But, eventually, they outgrow these make-do spaces and have to move on. Some of the factors you need to consider are so important, we’ve put together a list of the ones you need to pay attention to before making this big decision.

Budget

This is obviously the most important consideration you’ll have to make. The amount of money you’ll have to pay to rent your office space will likely be one of your biggest expenses. It’s important that you calculate exactly how much you can afford to spend each month. You’ll have to continue paying this expense even when times are lean, so it’s essential you’ll always have this money.

Location

This is important to keep in mind because if you have staff, they’ll likely have become used to working in a specific location. It might make sense to move to a cheaper area, but if it means every staff member will have to travel for many hours and have no access to public transport, i just doesn’t make sense. In the same way, if you rely on passing foot traffic, being accessible to the public is important.

Office setup

It’s important to think about the type of environment and company culture you envision for your company. Do you want everyone to work in one large, open space? Do you want individual cubicles? Do you want a mixture of the two? It’s important that you consider this before you make the move as it will have an impact on the atmosphere and productivity of the office.

Security

Every business has different security needs and it is important to think about these before you  make decisions about your next office space. Think about how many people will have access to the building and if it’s important for the public to have access. If the latter is true, you’ll need to have enhanced security in place. You’ll have to think carefully about the need for security officers, alarms, bollards and turnstiles.

Potential for growth

If your business has already grown enough to need more office space, it should be clear that you’re on a path for increased growth in the future. Therefore, you’ll need to choose new office space with the understanding that you’ll need more space. It doesn’t make sense to find something just big enough for your current needs. Rather, choose an office which has the space for your team to grow over the next year.

2 African industries perfect for investment

As we consider how to approach the future, the obvious focus is where to put our money. This is why investment matters. We want our money to work for us, so we focus on putting money in areas that will result in greater returns. For example, we put money into our own and our children’s education so that we create better opportunities. Yet, there are of course other areas we could focus our investments, which benefits both us and those being invested in.

This is where we can examine two African industries that deserve greater attention.

Manufacturing

The world has relied heavily on China and Vietnam for their manufacturing. Everyone has a few items with “Made in China” on the labels. However, Africa is slowly rising to catch up with these major markets.

As Bloomberg reports in their analysis of rising economic hubs:

“For impressive growth, look to Africa with four countries making the cut: Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana. Among the 10 African nations surveyed, Uganda emerged as the continent’s best performer with expected growth of 5.6 percent this year. This in spite of a volatile political landscape ahead of February elections.”

It’s time to consider Africa as a place to put your money, consider the enormous growth in an area that is universally important. Manufacturing is one industry that won’t see change any time soon, considering it’s functioned as it has for so long. The problem, of course, is that the markets have been set for so long so finding a place to invest has been difficult. Now, we have an opportunity to start considering Africa as a place to not only grow our money but also help the region itself.

Agriculture

While climate change is a major issue affecting the entire world, the African region has had to endure some of the worst outcomes. Dramatic climate change hit Southern Africa hard a little while back, resulting in enormous job loss and downturn of produce.

Yet, dramatic weather is something the region has faced for millennia. African nations and their citizens have managed to get by while enduring the harshest conditions. Climate change may be dramatic, but it’s not too different from what African farmers dealt with before human-made climate change became so prominent.

Despite current hardships, agriculture is an ideal place for those who want to invest in Africa. With enormous innovation and smart entrepreneurship, many agriculture sectors are turning around. African agriculture accounts for 60% of the entire continent’s jobs. The continent has 200-million hectares of untilled land, almost half for the entire world making it ideal for new focus and growth. This is where we’d see our money almost literally grow.