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New Video: Procept eLearning Experience and Offerings

  • By: pcadmin on 09 Dec 2016

Procept just released a video highlighting its approach to e-learning, its experience developing e-learning solutions, and a brief description of some of its e-learning offerings.

 

New Video: Critical Factors for Project Success

  • By: pcadmin on 08 Dec 2016

Procept has just released a video by Morley Selver, one of Procept's Senior Consultants, explaining several guidelines you need to keep in mind when working on projects. Although they seem simple enough, they can have a huge effect on any project if the team ignores them. He talks about project manager behaviors, project guidelines, and finally explains the four project constraints of scope, schedule, budget, resources and the importance of keeping them in balance as changes occur during a project. 

This is the latest in a series of short instructional videos that Procept will be releasing for free on YouTube to highlight the teaching skills of its instructors and to drive interest in Procept's offerings. Subscribe to the Procept YouTube channel to get notified of new videos as they are released.

 

FREE Webinar - Exploring Agile Contracts: Fixed Price, Time and Materials and Hybrid Options

  • By: pcadmin on 30 Nov 2016

One of the biggest challenges when starting an agile project is figuring out how to set realistic expectations with the sponsor and then creating a contract that reflects those expectations, but does so in an agile manner.

Contracts in their various forms are required when working for both external and internal clients. Join Canada's agile guru Kevin Aguanno as he explores various types of agile contracts including fixed price, time and materials and hybrid contract options. Learn how to set up a formal agreement (contract, statement of work, or document of understanding) for projects characterized by uncertainty and high levels of change.

Earn 1 PDU for attending this 2 February 2017 at Noon Eastern time event.

Register online for this free event by clicking on the button below...

FREE Webinar - All PMOs are Not the Same: Exploring the Many Functions of a PMO

  • By: pcadmin on 30 Nov 2016

Not all PMOs are created equal. Some focus on project portfolio status reporting, some on process compliance audits, others on creating methodology and other process standards. Yet even this short list does not cover ALL of the various functions that different PMOs can play in an organization.

On 11 January 2017 at Noon (Eastern time), join Kevin Aguanno as he explores the many different functions a PMO could undertake within an organization. Along the way, he'll share some interesting research about how PMOs are functioning today and some indicators about how the PMOs of the future will look.

Register online for this free event by clicking on the button below.

Western Continuing Studies Partners with Procept Associates to Stay in Tune with Emerging Trends

  • By: pcadmin on 29 Nov 2016

Many of the largest “new economy” companies (Apple, Google, etc.) are noted for their ability to adapt quickly to changing marketplace trends. As noted in The Economist (Dec. 2015), Apple sells through its inventories every four days and introduces a new product every four weeks, Facebook updates its software in real time, and fashion retailer Zara designs 40,000 new products a year and ships them to stores twice per week, creating an environment of constant change. Trying to keep pace with the speed of change in the current economy challenges all businesses, including adult education.

To help it stay in tune with emerging trends in the business world, Western Continuing Studies (WCS) has partnered with Procept Associates Ltd., Canada’s oldest and largest provider of project management and business analysis training.

“As one of Canada’s leading universities, we take pride in providing top-quality programming using the best instructors. Partnering with Procept, we can ensure that our programming evolves with the changing marketplace needs and that we can bring highly-experienced instructors who are at the top of their professions,” says Christine Wilton, Program Manager for Western Continuing Studies. “My role involves creating and implementing a strategy that helps us enrich and transform the lives of our diverse audience of adult learners in this rapidly-changing world. We believe that Procept’s exceptional instructors and industry-leading courses will help us meet our strategic goals.”

With over 200 classroom and online courses in its catalogue, Procept offers courses ranging from beginner to advanced levels in many fields. Under this new partnership, Procept will be offering several of its project management, business analysis and agile courses through WCS.

Carlo Barrettara, Procept’s president, supports the partnership, stating “We are delighted to expand our network of university partners in Canada and the USA to include Western, Canada’s leading university. We are pleased that Western Continuing Studies decided that Procept met its high standards of excellence.”

Wilton continues: “As industry standards change and business practices evolve, courses quickly become outdated. Procept’s ongoing investments in updating existing courses and developing new courses to address emerging trends frees Western Continuing Studies from having to do so ourselves. This frees up resources we can devote to other programme areas and towards maintaining our culture of customer service excellence.”

The first course of many under the partnership will run at the WCS downtown London campus starting January 25, 2017. The course, Certified Agile Project Manager, will be delivered by Kevin Aguanno, Canada’s leading agile expert and author of over 30 books and DVDs. At the completion of the three-day course, students will write the Certified Agile Project Manager exam from the Project Management Association of Canada (PMAC-AGPC.ca). For more information on the course, visit http://bit.ly/2g4aETM
 

ABOUT PROCEPT ASSOCIATES LTD.
Procept Associates Ltd. is a leader in management education with offices coast-to-coast across Canada as well as in the USA and overseas. Procept started operations in London, Ontario in 1983 and its USA-based subsidiary started in 1965. Procept provides training on behalf of several Canadian and US universities, is the official management training provider to many government bodies, and provides in-house training to many corporations and non-profit organizations. Find out more at http://www.procept.com
 

ABOUT WESTERN CONTINUING STUDIES
A division of Western University in London, Ontario, Western Continuing Studies offers courses and programs designed to meet the needs of a diverse group of learners – from two-day to 12-week courses, both daytime and evening classes, delivered face-to-face and online. Every year more than 3000 adult learners enroll in courses for professional development and personal enrichment at Western Continuing Studies. For every one of those students, the decision to return to the classroom can be life changing. Find out more at http://wcs.uwo.ca

FREE Webinar - Critical Factors for Project Management Success (Dec. 6, 2016)

  • By: pcadmin on 07 Sep 2016

As part of our ongoing series of webinars, join host Morley Selver on this webinar where you will discover the critical factors you need to keep in mind to improve your chances of project success. Although they seem simple enough, they can have a huge effect on any project if the team ignores them.

The webinar will examine the most important project manager behaviours, project guidelines, and the critical relationship between the four most important project constraints of scope, schedule, budget, and resources.

Register online for this free event by clicking on the button below.

On Being Uniform

  • By: morley.selver on 22 Aug 2016

by Morley Selver, P.Eng., IPMA-B

As a consulting engineer we recently did a project for a refinery where the pipe specification called out asbestos gaskets. Knowing that asbestos has not been used for years in North America and the fact that on the last refinery project, the project engineer did not want to use them, we assumed that this project engineer would do the same. We spent some time researching what was used in the past to replace the asbestos gasket, made up a specification deviation and sent it to the refinery project engineer. To our surprise he refused the specification deviation as he liked asbestos gaskets and that was what he wanted to use. To him, it was a matter of personal preference.

This is not an isolated incident and is a problem that all people dealing with Owners have, that is, what does the Owner want? As a service provider, time and money are wasted when there is confusion and indecision on the Owners’ side. People do not know what to do, so nothing gets done. You don’t know which direction to go, so you spin your wheels. You struggle, you waste time, and money. This is not a pleasant position to be in, especially when you figure out what one project engineers’ preference is and the next project engineer has different preferences. This preference issue not only applies to equipment and material, but also forms and other documents.

What to Use, What To Use?

This is the issue of uniformity and it applies to every company, even your own. By uniformity, I mean everyone in your office should look the same to the outside world. If I am a contractor or consultant, I should see only one person. All the forms and letters used should be the same, the letterhead, and formatting should be consistent, in other words there should be no deviation between personnel, no personal preferences. You don’t go to a bank and every teller has a different form based on what they like to use! They are uniform, teller to teller, branch to branch. You need to be the same.

For CAD, materials, and equipment installation there are specifications and standards. These specifications and standards have been developed over the years through trial and error, discussion, study, and research. They are to be taken seriously and should not be deviated from. If you need to deviate from them, the proper procedure is to get a ‘Specification Deviation’ to record the deviation and obtain authorization for the noncompliance.

So, to be consistent, amongst other things, your company should have standard forms, specifications and standards, procedures, letterhead, minutes of meeting, etc. and all correspondence should go through a common secretary who can format it the corporate way. This sounds easy but can be difficult to do. It is the only way to operate a business efficiently.

Oops, We Got The Wrong Item

For equipment and material, one way for the Owner to achieve consistency when working with engineers, vendors and contractors, is to use a Plant Conditions and Standard Component List. This document serves two purposes; 1 Have you ever been in the position of looking for design basis information and the Owner does not have the answer or the answer given differs from the last time the question was asked? This is what the Plant Conditions document is used for. It describes to Service Providers what the plant conditions are. It tells them the plant elevation; water, air, natural gas pressures; fluid temperature and power information; weather information at the plant location; plus any other important information about the plant and its’ location. This allows those designing equipment to have the same operating conditions as the next designer. With the conditions printed out, everyone knows where they are and there is no guessing as to the conditions. This document has to be kept up-to-date. One important section is the earthquake design information. For this the Owner should hire a structural engineer familiar with the location to provide the numbers. If this is left up to the vendors there is a good chance that the information used will be wrong since they are usually taken from general information. These plant conditions will provide uniformity across all designs. For the Service Providers there is no wondering what numbers to use. 2 Have you ever been in the position of buying an equipment skid, it shows up on site and within 15 minutes someone from maintenance is in your office telling you that the components use in the skid are not what the plant use. Now the fun starts trying to get the situation rectified. The standard component list is there to help you prevent this problem. It is a list of the plants preferred make and type of components they like to use. It covers, amongst other things, architectural, mechanical, electrical, and instrumentation. It can have one, two, or three choices of manufacturer to give the Service Providers, Vendors and Contractors some leeway. If you have given this type of document to a vendor then the skid problem becomes a lot easier to handle. You just call up the vendor, tell him he did not use what you asked for and you want it fixed at his cost.

The Standard Component List does not just apply to industrial plants. One of my workshop attendees was a volunteer on a historical gold mine restoration and adapted this document as it was a great way to ensure consistency of hardware / components across all the volunteers and avoid confusion with the vendors / contractors providing services.

Where To Find One

It is important for this document to be developed and transmitted to the Service Providers, Vendors, and Contractors. If you want more information and the actual document, I have written an e-book on this which includes a comprehensive list of components used in a plant. You can take this list, give it to your maintenance people to fill in and you are ready to go. For a copy of this ebook, please contact sales@procept.com.

The ROADMAP Acrostic

  • By: bill.richardson on 12 Aug 2016

Acrostic: A memory device that helps people remember discreet pieces of information. The first letter of each word in an acrostic spells out a word or message that provides a framework for understanding and application.

 

Leadership and Management Context

ROADMAP (Remove Obstacles Ambiguity Distractions and Mobilize Around Purpose) reminds business professionals that leadership success involves asking the right questions rather than always needing to have the right answers. As an illustration, one key right question of the team should be what impedes success or what distracts the team from a peak performance focus.

Leadership is authentic influence that creates value by mobilizing people toward a shared purpose or goal. With this in mind, this acrostic is easy to learn and teach to stay focused on leadership’s intent—helping people share the vision and contribute to its attainment.

ROADMAP (Remove Obstacles Ambiguity Distractions and Mobilize Around Purpose)

Remove

Main Idea: Remove means remove. This acrostic’s first word is more about awareness and focus than action. Instead of focusing on having the right answer, remove is about believing that your team could have the right answer, but an obstacle interferes. The leader’s mission is to remove that obstruction. Although this mission might be simple, like golf, it is difficult. Remove requires reprogramming ideas and beliefs with which you have likely been raised.

Obstacles

Main Idea: Not all obstacles are created equal. Often, intelligent people and people who think they are intelligent advocate a solution to a problem instead of understanding the context or impediment of the person asking the question.

This tendency bleeds into a diminishing leadership style whereby leaders, thinking their mission is to answer questions, act as thinking replacement instead of thinking partner. Put another way, the leader can be the biggest obstacle to peak team performance and individual growth and development.

Team members should consider several obstacles in team or individual peak performance. For example, people feeling unvalued in their job by the leader or not valuing the work (want to) is classic.

People lacking skills and abilities (able to) and not understanding expectations or the definition of success (know to) are others. Even so, the biggest inhibitor leaders miss is the most obvious—not being equipped with tools, processes, or support (equipped to). These four elements form another valuable acrostic called WAKE, which can be found on this blog.

Ambiguity

Main Idea: Ambiguity is the enemy of commitment. The Holy Grail of leadership is convincing your followers that you can be trusted with their commitment of energy, passion, and full engagement to pursue a shared purpose. A clear vision, goals, and consistent messaging are the building blocks for fostering and sustaining commitment. Whereas commitment is nourished by clarity, it is compromised by ambiguity, which leads to high levels of uncertainty. The natural consequence of uncertainty is eroding commitment, usually to the point of compliance. The trouble with compliance is that, as the leader, you no longer have a fully engaged, creative team member. Instead, you have individuals who, because of the lack of clarity, take fewer risks and wait for direction before acting on next steps. Neuroscience demonstrates that uncertainty triggers a threat response in the brain that can have negative consequences on team and individual cognitive performance. High-performance teams depend on fully engaged, committed team members

Distractions

Main Idea: Learn how to tame what Buddha called the monkey mind—an apt metaphor to illustrate our inability to stay focused on a specific task or aim. All distractions are obstacles because our brains are hardwired to pay attention to danger, food, and sex, but not always in that order.

With survival-based instincts in play in our brains, primal impulses to keep us alive prevail, especially when we do not pay attention. While experiencing the world, our brain is vigilant for any threat to our survival, real or imagined, for example, e-mail’s impact on productivity. A leader emphasizing an “always on” approach can cause team members to constantly listen for and respond to emails. Neuroscientists have discovered that our attentional focus takes several minutes to return to its best.

Imagine the impact on your team’s ability to focus if you are a diminisher, command-and-control manager, who constantly asks, “Are you done yet?” The distraction part of ROADMAP is the most overlooked success factor in leadership today.

Mobilize

Main Idea: Telling is not enough. The dictionary definition of mobilize , “to assemble, prepare, or put into active service of a purpose,” fits this acrostic’s intent. Mobilize is a key engagement strategy that can be executed by telling, selling, negotiating, or even enlisting.

When leaders think unconsciously, on autopilot, culturally induced memes (beliefs or attitudes) they have heard, thought, or learned are activated. Most likely, the go-to, automatic mobilizing approach will be telling, not because it is the most effective or appropriate, but because it is programmed in by the organizational culture.

Today’s fast-paced, multicultural, multigenerational, and complex work environments need a more agile mobilization strategy. Leaders must mobilize people through selling ideas, through willingness to negotiate win/win options, and by attracting people to a shared vision of a better future.

Around

Main Idea: Around differs from with . When leaders mobilize around purpose, they communicate and model that their team must connect between their team role and the overall vision of the team or product. Around in this context means “energized by” as opposed to just understanding the intellectual or practical connection. Mobilizing through with is tactical, and it lacks the intensity and attraction of the transformational around.

Purpose

Main Idea: Never let process impede purpose. Dictionaries define purpose as “an anticipated outcome that is intended or that guides planned actions.” Intentionality about purpose goes beyond a vision, defined as “the ability to plan or see into the future.”

Purpose gives your mission legitimacy or appeal. The word mission is often defined as “an ambition or purpose assumed by a person or group.” Leadership manages meaning, especially by helping team members understand their personal or group purpose, interpret integration of the corporate mission, and see the goal, often called the vision.

Although we are hardwired to respond to danger, we are drawn to situations where our status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness (SCARF) are acknowledged and reinforced. David Rock in his groundbreaking work in 2009 created the SCARF model for social interaction.

Leaders manage meaning when they help shared meaning of key concepts, whereby shared meaning, and not shared agreement, helps team members transform shared meaning to shared purpose and shared ownership.

Final Words

Team members opting, without coercion or pressure, to achieve the envisioned shared purpose is the Holy Grail of leadership. Commitment to shared purpose leads to a shared ROADMAP, shared priority, and shared ownership. Shared ownership in a purpose is the fundamental building block for high-performing teams. The ROADMAP acrostic helps get you there.


Bill RichardsonBill Richardson, PMP, PgMP is a Procept Senior Consultant dedicated to helping individuals, teams, and organizations transform learning into measurable value. This simple but powerful imperative, which he calls Learning on Purpose , is the centerpiece for his consulting and training business and is aimed at engaging in learning as a process, not a one - time event. He can be counted on to candidly share his knowledge, global perspective, and objective insights about how to thrive in today’s fast-paced, turbulent, but opportunity - rich, environment. Your learning is his business.

Q2 2016 PMI Certifications Update

  • By: pcadmin on 01 Aug 2016

The Project Management Institute (PMI) just released the latest figures on the number of holders of each of its certifications as of June 30, 2016. The figures show solid growth in most certifications:
 

Total Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential holders:

718,131

Total Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification holders:

31,755

Total Program Management Professional (PgMP)® credential holders:

1,662

Total PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)® credential holders:

1,516

Total PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)® credential holders:

Not published

Total PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® certification holders:

12,044

Total PMI Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)® credential holders:

355

Total PMI Active Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®:

843

Honest, Fair and Ethical

  • By: morley.selver on 11 Jul 2016

by Morley Selver, P.Eng., IPMA-B

As I mentioned in a previous article, you have to treat every project as if it will end up in court. If you are unfortunate enough to be there, then you want to be on the winning side. You need a reputation that cannot be called into question. In your project management career you will come across all kinds of issues and it is important that you be honest, fair, and ethical in all your dealings with your team members, vendors, contractors and any other people with whom you come into contact.

Will People Work With You?

To be a leader, you have to be honest with everyone and in everything you do. You have to lead by example. In all projects, mistakes happen, things change, in fact change is inevitable. If the mistake is your fault then say so and get on with the work. Do not blame other team members. You should stand up for your team members. If you do not stand up for your team members, motivation will be affected, decisions will be harder to make, and they will not want to work with you again. You have to be able to respond positively to acceptable criticism and personal attacks. At all times you have to be reliable, trustworthy and discrete. If you say you will do something, then do it, as deeds speak louder than words. We all know someone who is all talk and no action. These people we don’t like to work with.

The same goes for contractors and vendors. They are part of your team and you have to stay on good terms with them as well. If you made the mistake, do not try to blame the contractors / vendors as it will only cause you greater problems. Contractors / vendors have reputations and costs to control and they will not stand to be blamed for something that is not their fault especially if it will cost them money. They will bypass you and go to your management if necessary. They will also refuse to deal with you which causes its’ own problems. You do not want to put yourself in these positions, so be above board in all your dealings.

Try and Convince Your Boss Not To Do This!

An issue that comes up or will come up, is requesting a quote from a contractor / vendor when you have no intention of using them and are only looking for a check price. If the contractor / vendor finds out this what you are up to, you will have trouble getting a price out of them in the future. Keep in mind it costs the contractor / vendor money to put together an estimate and if there is no return for the effort they will not do it. This happened recently when a Canadian city was looking for quotes on streetcars. They didn’t get bids they liked so they tried to get a quote from another vendor who was not in the original bidding effort. He was not interested in giving a price as he figured out they were only looking for a check price. This put the city into the position of not knowing if the price they have is good or bad. The way around this is to pay a contractor / vendor to put an estimate together for you. It may not be cheap, but at least you get an estimate that is somewhat accurate. This way you are upfront and honest about what you are doing.

Project Management Is Not A Popularity Contest

When you are the project leader, your company, or the owner, has given you their money and are asking you to manage it wisely for them. Someone has faith in you, that you can do the job. In order for them to continue having faith in you, you have to be above board in everything you do, i.e you have to behave in an ethical manner. Ethics is the morally accepted professional conduct for every individual and is a basic trait in every social system. At all times you have to be aware of ethical issues and address them. You have to be open about your own personal and professional ethics. In times of conflict or crisis you have to maintain your ethical standards. You have to live up to agreements, be transparent, fair, and categorical in ethical standards.

When you are the project leader, others will always try to influence your behaviour towards them. The best example of this is gifts from a contractor / vendor. Most organizations have policies and procedures to follow such as not accepting gifts greater than $25.00 in value. Myself, I will let someone buy me a cup of coffee but that’s it. If your company does not have a policy, then make your own personal policy to maintain your ethical behaviour. Any gifts you receive could be raffled off, or given to charity, (get and keep receipts if donating to charity). Remember, your job is to protect your companies interest, not to be the most popular person on the project. With all projects there will come a time when you will have to make tough decisions that a contractor / vendor is not going to like. No matter how uncomfortable the decision is for you, you will have to make it. The only way you can do this is if you have a clear conscience. You can not be influenced by anyone.

In summary, as the leader, you have to look after your companies investment and you always have to be prepared to make the hard, uncomfortable decisions. You can only do this comfortably if you are reliable, honest, and follow ethical standards.

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