What is the relationship between managing change, stress and men and women’s mental health in projects?

Uncategorized

This article was originally published on APM

If we consider a project to be ‘a unique, transient endeavour undertaken to achieve a desired outcome’ – we can see why projects are inherently stressful.

Projects are unique, so there is no business-as-usual. Project managers manage change, and there is always an element of change you cannot foresee. Projects are also transient, operating over a finite period with a reasonable rate of staff turnover and some instability. They have a desired outcome – usually, strict targets decided many years before delivery, with intense pressure to hold to those targets. 

These are the relatively ‘ordinary’ project stressors, but add in unforeseen issues, incidents, in-project change, decision-making scrutiny, etc, and you can see why mental health is such a big issue.

The topic of mental health raises an interesting contrast between men and women, which we believe is due, in part, to our upbringing and societal culture.

Boys are taught from a young age that crying or ‘being emotional’ is an undesirable trait. They are told to ‘man up’, because ‘boys don’t cry’. They must be strong, so they can look after their mothers, sisters and younger siblings. They are encouraged to internalise their feelings and keep a stiff upper lip.

All of this perpetuates the idea that, to be ‘manly’, there are certain types of emotion men cannot show. This is reinforced in adolescence, where boys who aren’t sporty or ‘one of the lads’ can be socially excluded or picked on. When boys fight, yell and lose their tempers, that is just ‘boys being boys’. Aggressive and confrontational behaviour by male children, adolescents or adults is considered to be acceptable.

By contrast, women are encouraged to express emotions, talk about feelings and let it all out. They can cry freely and lean on friends for emotional support, and grow up feeling that expressing emotion is socially acceptable. More confrontational emotional responses, however, such as shouting, intimidating and fighting – well, they’re just not ‘ladylike’. Unlike men, women are conditioned to become emotive in an unthreatening way.

These differences can be seen in the workplace, particularly when people are asked to perform under stressful conditions. Under stress, men may be more likely to display the basic emotions of anger or fear (fight or flight). They are likely to display one of two extremes – confront or withdraw, shout or clam up, dictate or avoid, and so on. These responses to stress could be seen as a demonstration of the behaviours men have learned while growing up, and which have been reinforced throughout life.

Responses like this may also indicate frustration – by not being encouraged to share feelings and emotions, men may grow up with less emotional intelligence and a stunted vocabulary or range of skills required to express themselves at difficult times. While things are starting to change, in construction projects, a man reacting in an angry or aggressive way in the workplace has typically been seen as acceptable, or at the very least unremarkable. We believe this is an industry blind spot.

While we may think about how aggressive behaviour affects women in the workplace, perhaps we are overlooking the obvious – how does it affect men? And how does accepting this behaviour discourage a male-dominated environment from becoming one that champions good mental health for all?

By accepting aggressive reactions as normal, we are inadvertently excluding men from the mental health awareness, education and support that they may need. We are extending gender-biased societal conditioning further into adulthood, and in so doing, may be dissuading other men from reacting differently or appreciating the need to learn how to.

We know that, for men, bottling up emotions and feelings is one of the primary causes of poor mental health, but we also know that men are less likely to grow up learning the skills they need to express themselves in a healthy way. So what can we do to help?

For employers in construction, it’s time to consider whether new health and well-being initiatives appreciate the differences between men and women. Do companies have a balanced representation of men and women undergoing mental health training? They should think about running initiatives that will appeal to those less likely or less able to share their feelings, and encouraging people to bring their ‘whole selves’ to work.

We can think about the times we have reacted angrily or aggressively to a stressful situation at work. Why did we react like that? What could we have done differently? What skills will help us react differently next time? Do we need help developing those skills?

When you experience aggressive behaviour in the workplace, take a moment to think about how the other person might be feeling. Do they need support? Do we need support? By reflecting on real-life situations, we can become more conscious of emotional responses and their impact. We should ask for help when we need it, and be honest about our challenges and stressors without considering it a sign of weakness.

With colleagues, we should try to recognise the symptoms of stress and offer support without judgement.

Oliver Filler from Plan International discusses project management and the benefits of PMD Pro

Oliver Filler from Plan International discusses project management and the benefits of PMD Pro

Project Management, Uncategorized

This article was originally published on Humentum

Oliver Filler, Program Quality Manager at Plan International, talks about his experiences in project management, rolling out program-wide improvements and how PMD Pro has helped provide a foundation for project management learning in the developing world.

George Miller: Hello and welcome to this podcast from Humentum. My name is George Miller and I recently had the opportunity to talk to Oliver Filler, the project management lead at Plan International, about his experience of rolling out PMD Pro training. Why did they choose PMD Pro? How did they prepare to introduce it and, critically, how have people found it and what impacts has it had? But before we got onto these big questions I began by asking Oliver about his own background in anthropology. What had got him interested in that?

Oliver Filler: I was just fascinated by people in society and why the world is the way it is, and looking at social constructs and behaviors, and why there is poverty: why are some individuals completely marginalized from society when others seem to have all the luck? I spent a lot of time in India during my university degree and my masters looking at the caste system and looking at the discrimination of Dalits, who are the untouchables within the caste system. That was around the time of the 2004 tsunami, so I thought I’d look into how that has an impact on aid and the distribution of aid. And so I looked at discrimination against Dalits as part of the tsunami response and made a lot of contacts that way with NGOs. It embedded my passion for development and humanitarian work and led into my first job with Save the Children.

George Miller: Was there an alternative course that you could have taken in which you became an academic? It sounds like you were thinking about the big structural issues as well as what was happening on the ground. Is that the path not taken?

Oliver Filler: Yeah, originally I was going to read English literature so I took a massive deviation from the path. People always ask me, do you have these plans in life and set up these goals? My opinion is that you miss opportunities that way and life :is too short to plan it out for 60 years only to realize it wasn’t what you wanted to do. So I have always veered towards the things that interest me, veered towards the things that I care passionately about and think are either great injustices or think that I can contribute something with my skill-set, so I try and maintain a flexibility, which is actually quite a useful skill-set for project management as well.

George Miller:So you began your career in this sector with Save the Children.  What were you doing back then? 

Oliver Filler:I was in Kashmir looking after education projects and some elements of monitoring and evaluation as well. It was post-conflict, fragile-state work. It pushed me down the path of humanitarian aid, which is most of my background. So fast-changing contexts, insecurity, but meeting huge needs. You’re dealing with very vulnerable individuals, so it was hard work but something I cared very much about. The entry into my career really was through Save the Children. You can deal with the insecurity, you can deal with the hard work, you can deal with the changing contexts and the frustrations because you’re dealing with very vulnerable individuals and you’re trying to support them as best you can. So as long as you’re meeting needs, it’s maybe not easy to forget about it, but you can accept some of the risks that you’re dealing with.

George Miller:Looking at it from the outside, I guess a lot of the time you must be so much in the moment when you’re in the field that it’s difficult to take a step back and think: is this the best way to do it? Are there other ways to do it? To keep an eye on the big picture because you have immediate human needs that you’re meeting. 

Oliver Filler: Absolutely, it’s the boiled frog syndrome where you don’t quite realize what’s going on around you because you’re in the middle of it. It’s a real risk with the work that we do in the humanitarian sector that you don’t have time to step back and look at the bigger picture. That is where project management comes in, because the role of a project manager is to provide that oversight and that space. While your team are running around trying to do the best they can in the middle of it, you need someone to be able to step back and look at the bigger picture and organize things. So that was where I first saw the need for that and probably a humanitarian context is the starkest reality to show that.

George Miller: We’re talking about a decade ago, a little bit more than that? What was the status of project management back then in the humanitarian sector?

Oliver Filler: It wasn’t just the humanitarian sector. I’d say the [whole] sector has professionalized a lot. I was coming in really at the cusp of change within the sector, so increasingly it was being professionalized; we were looking at project and programme management; we were looking at monitoring and evaluation and accountability, accountability to beneficiaries, making sure that communities are able to give their opinions and feedback and are at the heart of the projects that are designed. It was a fascinating point in the sector’s history because there was  massive change and with massive change you have huge challenges and obstacles. Ultimately we were looking at behaviour change, you know, these new ideas coming in, contradicting the way that the sector had been working previously.

George Miller: And what was pushing that change? 

Oliver Filler: I think it was just the flow of the sector. What generally happens, especially in the humanitarian context, is that a huge crisis will happen, the sector will respond and then we’ll learn. We’re lucky sometimes if we just pick up elements of the learning and embed it in the next response. But I think we just hit the cusp of this massive change point where enough had been learned in order to realize that things had to dramatically change. That was reflected in the sector, in the agencies that work within the sector. But I think it was also mirrored by funders, and where funders change their mind and funders start to prioritize things, the sector tends to follow as well. So I think things came together at the right time. It’s not to say that we are perfect where we are now, that we’ve learned everything and we’re doing everything marvelously. That’s certainly not the case, but I think it was a point where we had started to really push for doing things professionally, openly and transparently and that has now helped us improve the sector generally.

George Miller: So you came along on the cusp of change.  

Oliver Filler: I think so. I came in at a time where I was able to benefit from the changes that were being made. I’ve been lucky enough to learn as I go and be introduced to new training and new ways of working. But I was also at the heart for Save the Children of pushing a new monitoring and evaluation approach in responses certainly.  

George Miller: Can you tell me a bit more about that in practical terms, that new approach and your role in it?

Oliver Filler:  At Save the Children we realized that emergencies were being responded to in a knee-jerk way and there was the rationale – which is easy to understand, how we got into this mindset – which is that we must be doing it right because we’re doing it. This is the same with project management: ‘I know how to manage a project because I’m a project manager’. It’s a trap that we always fall into and there was a realization, not just for Save the Children but for the wider sector, that actually we needed to professionalize; we needed to look at our processes; we needed to push for openness and transparency. One of the things that Save the Children pushed earlier than most international organizations, I would say, was monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning, especially in humanitarian responses. Making sure we’re able to track what we’re doing, tracking our outputs, tracking our outcomes. What are we actually delivering, what quality are we delivering for people? We may be distributing things, but are they the things that people want? Save the Children really drove that early on in the sector. Likewise, running things like real-time evaluations: a few months into a humanitarian response, having an opportunity to step back and ask, is this the right response? In the middle of a manic humanitarian response, are we actually doing the right thing or have we fallen into the trap of just doing the same thing over and over? So real-time evaluations were really pushed by Save the Children early on and that sparked a big change in the sector. Then embedding monitoring and evaluation within that response and making sure that it’s there at the beginning rather than brought in as an afterthought. So instead of ‘we’ve been responding for a couple of months, should we bring in M&E?’, M&E goes in as part of the first phase response.

George Miller: I guess that any cultural shift meets with resistance or inertia or skepticism. Was that something that you remember encountering back then?

Oliver Filler: Yes, the difficulty is that you’re trying to embed a new way of working in a system that doesn’t know how it’s supposed to embed it, and how it’s supposed to work. So you end up with people line-managing M&E specialists who don’t actually know how M&E should work, and that’s just one example. There is a dange

Parceria Enactus Brasil e PM4NGOs

Parceria Enactus Brasil e PM4NGOs

Uncategorized

Trabalhando em Conjunto para melhor Apoiar os Gerentes de Projetos Sociais do Futuro

A Enactus Brasil e o PM4NGOs firmaram parceria neste mês de novembro para ampliar a promoção e compartilhamento de metodologias e boas práticas com estudantes da Rede Enactus no Brasil. 

A Enactus Brasil é parte do programa Enactus, presente em 36 países ao redor do mundo. Trata-se de uma rede de estudantes, líderes executivos e líderes acadêmicos, que fornece uma plataforma para os universitários criarem projetos de desenvolvimento comunitário que colocam capacidade e talento das pessoas em foco.

Os 2.800 estudantes universitários que participam do Programa da Enactus Brasil e desenvolvem mais de 210 projetos, serão acompanhados de perto e receberão apoio do representante do PM4NGOs no Brasil, Dov Rosemann. “O perfil dos estudantes que participam do programa é de pessoas engajadas com os desafios socioambientais de nossos tempos. Colaborar com essa geração de futuros líderes é ao mesmo tempo uma honra e uma ação estratégica para o desenvolvimento de uma cidadania ativa e responsável”, afirma Dov.

Além do acesso aos guias de boas práticas PMD Pro[1]e PgMD Pro[2], todas as metodologias e ferramentas do PM4NGOs, os estudantes que obtiverem a certificação uma das certificações do PM4NGOs terão acesso ao programa de integração e desenvolvimento profissional contínuo PMD Pro+.

Segundo Vitor Vannucchi Ungari, Gerente de Programas da Enactus Brasil, “através da ação empreendedora e sustentabilidade, os projetos buscam melhorar a vida de comunidades em situação de vulnerabilidade social. Os desafios são muitos e a complexidade é grande, mas sabemos que não mudaremos nada sem colocar as ideias em prática e executar nossos sonhos grandes. A parceria entre PM4NGOs e Enactus ajudará a profissionalizar ainda mais os projetos, buscando melhorar o desenvolvimento dos estudantes e consequentemente o valor gerado nas mais diferentes comunidades”.

Sobre a Enactus Brasil

Enactus é uma organização internacional sem fins lucrativos dedicada a inspirar os alunos a melhorar o mundo através da Ação Empreendedora.

A Enactus Brasil é um dos 36 países ao redor do mundo que opera o programa Enactus. Somos uma rede de estudantes, líderes executivos e líderes acadêmicos, onde fornecemos uma plataforma para os universitários criarem projetos de desenvolvimento comunitário que colocam capacidade e talento das pessoas em foco. Com isso, nossos alunos fazem da Ação Empreendedora a ferramenta que transforma vidas. E a transformação acontece dos dois lados: as pessoas que servimos e os alunos, que desenvolvem valores para se tornarem os verdadeiros líderes do futuro.

Assim como no mundo dos negócios, acreditamos que a competição estimula a criatividade e recompensa resultados. Para a Enactus, isso significa mais vidas impactadas. Uma série anual de campeonatos nacionais fornece um fórum para as equipes mostrarem o impacto de seus projetos, que são avaliados por executivos. O Time Campeão Nacional avança para a prestigiada Enactus World Cup, onde tem a oportunidade de vivenciar a celebração da excelência e colaboração.

www.enactus.org.br

Sobre o PM4NGOs

O PM4NGOs é uma organização sem fins lucrativos internacional que almeja por um mundo sustentável e equilibrado onde o investimento social em projetos e programas alcança o maior impacto possível.

O PM4NGOs promove a excelência na gestão de projetos e programas através da criação e desenvolvimento de guias boas práticas para profissionais de desenvolvimento social, certificação para aqueles trabalhando no setor social que desejam adquirir uma qualificação internacionalmente reconhecida, e mantém um fórum para comunicação e discussão sobre as melhores práticas para o setor de desenvolvimento social.

A missão do PM4NGOs é promover e apoiar o profissionalismo da gestão de programas e projetos no setor internacional de desenvolvimento social.

www.pm4ngos.org

[1]Gestão de Projetos para Profissionais de Desenvolvimento Social

[2]Gestão de Programas para Profissionais de Desenvolvimento Social

Enactus Brasil and PM4NGOs partnership

Enactus Brasil and PM4NGOs partnership

Uncategorized

Working Together to better Support the Future Social Development Project Managers

Enactus Brasil and PM4NGOs announce their partnership to share methodologies and best practices with the students of the Enactus Brazil Network.

Enactus Brasil part of the Enactus Program, present at 36 countries across the globe. The program is a network composed by students, executive and academic leaders, that offer a platform for university students create and implement community development projects, with focus on people talents and capabilities.

The 2,800 university students who participate in the Enactus Brasil Program and implement over 210 projects will receive close support and guidance from the PM4NGOs represent at Brazil, Dov Rosemann. “The students who attend the program have a socio-environmental engagement profile, focused on actual challenges. Collaborating with these future leaders is not only an honour but also a strategic action to develop responsible and proactive citizens”, says Dov.

Besides accessing the PMD Pro[1]and PgMD Pro[2]best practices guides, other PM4NGOs methodologies and tools, students who acquire one of the PM4NGOs certifications will have access to the continuing professional development program PMD Pro+

According to Vitor Vannucchi Ungari, Enactus Brasil Program Manager, “through sustainable entrepreneurship actions, projects seek to improve socially vulnerable communities living conditions. There are many challenges and the context is complex, but we know we will not change anything without changing our ideas in real actions. The partnership with between PM4NGOs and Enactus will help to make our projects even more professionals, improving students’ development and, as a consequence, generating earned value in the communities we support.”

 

About Enactus Brasil

Enactus is an international non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world through Entrepreneurship Action.

Enactus Brasil part of the Enactus Program, present at 36 countries across the globe. The program is a network composed by students, executive and academic leaders, that offer a platform for university students create and implement community development projects, with focus on people talents and capabilities.

Our Students make the Entrepreneurship Action the tool that change lives. The transformation happens on both sides: people we serve and students, who develop values to become the true leaders of the future.

Likewise the business world, we believe competition stimulates creativity and generate results. To Enactus, this belief means impact to a bigger number of lives. A series of annual national contests provides a platform to Enactus teams present their projects’ impact, evaluated by executive professionals. The national winner team moves forward to the Enactus World Cup, giving this team an opportunity to experience and celebrate the excellence in cooperation.

www.enactus.org.br

 

About PM4NGOs

PM4NGOs is an international non-profit organization that seeks for an equitable and sustainable world where social investment achieves the greatest impact.

PM4NGOs promotes excellence in the management of social investment projects and programmes through the creation and development of best practice guidance for development professionals, certification schemes for those working in the sector who will be proud to hold an internationally recognized qualification and a forum for communication and discussion about international development sector best practice.

The PM4NGOs mission is to promote and sustain the professionalism of program and project management in the international development sector.

www.pm4ngos.org

 

[1]Gestão de Projetos para Profissionais de Desenvolvimento Social

[2]Gestão de Programas para Profissionais de Desenvolvimento Social

Parceria Itaú Social e PM4NGOs

Parceria Itaú Social e PM4NGOs

Uncategorized

Fortalecimento da Gestão de Projetos Sociais no Brasil e no Mundo

A Fundação Itaú Social e o PM4NGOs firmaram parceria neste mês de outubro para promover e compartilhar metodologias, boas práticas, ferramentas, e conteúdos de gestão de projetos e programas sociais, ampliando as opções de desenvolvimento dos profissionais e organizações apoiadas pelas duas instituições. A Fundação Itaú Social, suas iniciativas e parceiros terão acesso aos guias de boas práticas PMD Pro[1]e PgMD Pro[2], todas as metodologias e ferramentas do PM4NGOs, e ao programa de integração e desenvolvimento profissional contínuo PMD Pro+.

Da mesma forma, os mais de 19 mil profissionais certificados na metodologia PMD Pro terão acesso às publicações e vídeos compartilhados pela Fundação Itaú Social e poderão se inscrever para os cursos oferecidos pela Rede de Avaliação Econômica de Projetos Sociais da Fundação.

Além do intercâmbio de técnicas e ferramentas de gestão, as organizações pretendem colaborar na tradução e desenvolvimento de novas metodologias. “Acreditamos que a experiência e conhecimento da equipe do Itaú Social é fundamental para novas metodologias que venhamos a desenvolver e para aprimorar as já existentes, e esperamos poder contribuir fortalecendo os projetos de da Fundação”, afirma Edson Marinho, Diretor Executivo do PM4NGOs.

Sobre a Fundação Itaú Social

O Itaú Social desenvolve, implementa e compartilha tecnologias sociais para contribuir com a melhoria da educação pública brasileira. Sua atuação está pautada no desenvolvimento de programas sociais, no fomento a organizações da sociedade civil e na realização de pesquisas e avaliações.

Juntamente com uma rede de parceiros, fornecedores e colaboradores, trabalha para que municípios, estados e União se unam para entregar aquilo que é direito de todos: acesso à educação com aprendizagem adequada, sem restrição de tempo, espaço, raça, cor ou gênero.

Por entender que a educação pública demanda uma organização coletiva, o Itaú Social convida todos os interessados para, juntos, criar e fazer prosperar um Polo de Desenvolvimento Educacional, de forma que seja possível formar cidadãos capazes de construir a nação que todos almejam.

www.itausocial.org.br

Sobre o PM4NGOs

O PM4NGOs é uma organização sem fins lucrativos internacional que almeja por um mundo sustentável e equilibrado onde o investimento social em projetos e programas alcança o maior impacto possível.

O PM4NGOs promove a excelência na gestão de projetos e programas através da criação e desenvolvimento de guias boas práticas para profissionais de desenvolvimento social, certificação para aqueles trabalhando no setor social que desejam adquirir uma qualificação internacionalmente reconhecida, e mantém um fórum para comunicação e discussão sobre as melhores práticas para o setor de desenvolvimento social.

A missão do PM4NGOs é promover e apoiar o profissionalismo da gestão de programas e projetos no setor internacional de desenvolvimento social.

www.pm4ngos.org

[1]Gestão de Projetos para Profissionais de Desenvolvimento Social

[2]Gestão de Programas para Profissionais de Desenvolvimento Social

Itaú Social and PM4NGOs partnership

Itaú Social and PM4NGOs partnership

Uncategorized

Partnership Strengthens Development Project Management in Brazil and the World

The Itaú Social Foundation and PM4NGOs established partnership to promote and share development project and program management methodologies, best practices, tools, and other content. The partnership will increase development opportunities for professionals and organizations supported by both organizations.

The Itaú Social Foundation, its initiatives and partners will have access to PMD Pro[1]and PgMD Pro[2]best practices guides, all PM4NGos methodologies and tools, and to the continuing professional development program PMD Pro+

Likewise, the 19 thousands certified PMD Professionals will have access to Itaú Social Foundation publications and videos, and they will be able to register to training courses offered by the Development Project Economic Evaluation Network.

Beyond the management techniques and tools exchange, the organizations intend to cooperate on translating and developing new methodologies. “We believe that the Itaú Social team knowledge and experience is most valuable for new methodologies that we develop and to improve the ones we already have. We also hope to contribute on strengthening the projects supported by the Foundation˜, says Edson Marinho, PM4NGOs Executive Director.

 

About Itaú Social 

Itaú Social develops, implements, and share social development technologies to contribute to an improvement of Brazilian public education. The Foundation work is based on social development programs, promoting civil society organization, and implementing researches and evaluations.

Collaboratively with a network of partners, service providers, and contributors, Itaú Social efforts aim the integration of Brazilian federal government and municipalities to deliver what is everyone’s right: access to proper and adequate education, with no restriction of time, space, ethnic, origin or gender.

Understanding that public education demands a collective organization, Itaú Social invite all interested individuals and organizations to jointly create and make prosper a Development Education cluster, to make it possible develop citizens able to build the nation everybody wishes for.

www.itausocial.org.br

 

About PM4NGOs

PM4NGOs is an international non-profit organization that seeks for an equitable and sustainable world where social investment achieves the greatest impact.

PM4NGOs promotes excellence in the management of social investment projects and programmes through the creation and development of best practice guidance for development professionals, certification schemes for those working in the sector who will be proud to hold an internationally recognized qualification and a forum for communication and discussion about international development sector best practice.

The PM4NGOs mission is to promote and sustain the professionalism of program and project management in the international development sector.

www.pm4ngos.org

 

[1]Project Management for Development Professionals

[2]Program Management for Development Professionals

Introduction to Agile Project Management

Introduction to Agile Project Management

Project Management, Uncategorized

by Peter Marlow

Agile is defined as “relating to or denoting a method of project management, used especially for software development, that is characterized by the division of tasks into short phases of work [delivering value early and often] and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans”. Agile concepts can be applied to many projects and can achieve better outcomes than more traditional methods.

In every project the project manager’s challenge is to balance the triple constraints of Time, Cost and Scope (see section 1.3 of the PMD Pro Guide). Each of these constraints is connected to the others. Whenever one of these constraints is restricted or extended, the other constraints will also need to be extended/increased or restricted/reduced.

The project manager needs to understand the relationships and trade-offs that exist between each of the constraints and agree priorities with stakeholders before the project is launched. It’s often hard to change these once the project is in progress.

Generally, donors and stakeholders can be inflexible about the project scope, so time and cost have to be adjusted to balance the triple constraint and build an acceptable plan. The problem is that circumstances often change during projects that impose a change of scope. This forces a difficult rebalancing process, which, if unsuccessful, causes time delays and cost overruns – and unhappy stakeholders.

The Agile approach to Project Management turns this approach upside down:

• Time is fixed by dividing the project into short fixed time iterations;
• Cost of resources is fixed;
• Scope is variable. It focuses on the highest priority requirements, with the expectation that the scope will evolve as the project progresses.

There is a decision gate at the end of each iteration to re-prioritize existing requirements, to consider any new ones as the project moves forward, and to plan the next iteration. It’s a form of rolling-wave planning. The aim is to deliver the most important requirements within the budgeted cost and time, but maybe not all the requirements. For this process to work it has to be highly collaborative. It’s essential that project stakeholders are closely involved, particularly users.

With this approach, donors and stakeholders will be more confident approving the project because costs and schedules are defined up front and the overall risk is lower. Hopefully, donors and stakeholders will accept that they can’t have everything, but what they do get will meet the main objectives of the project. So ultimately, the Agile approach to project management can result in a more successful outcome.

The essential element of the Agile process is to be able to prioritize the project’s requirements into four categories of importance:

• Must have – these requirements are guaranteed to be delivered;
• Should have;
• Could have;
• Won’t have at this time.

This is known as the MoSCoW priorization (the term MoSCoW itself is an acronym derived from the first letter of each of four prioritization categories). This process can be difficult as stakeholders often prioritize all their requirements as Must Have! A rule of thumb is that typically the ‘Must have’ requirements should take 60% of the project effort whereas the ‘Could have’ requirements will take no more than 20% of effort in each iteration.

Agile focuses on small incremental changes. The challenge can be that the bigger picture can become lost and create uncertainty amongst stakeholders. Building consensus takes time and challenges many norms and expectations. Resource costs can be higher; for example, co-locating teams or investing in infrastructure for them to work together remotely. The onus can be perceived to shift from the empowered end-user to the empowered project team with a risk that benefits are lost because the project team is focussed on the wrong things.

Another criticism of Agile is that it can encourage project teams to cut corners, resulting in a poorly supported outcome. It’s important to remember that Agile projects need to be managed carefully just like any other even if they are “light touch”. For example, the necessity for heavy project documents should always be questioned with stakeholders. Things should not be done just because “we’ve always done it that way”.

The critical governance decision is to select the appropriate approach as part of the project strategy and keep this under review. Level of certainty versus time to deliver is the balance that needs to be considered when selecting suitable projects to go Agile.

Agile integrates well with PMD Pro phase model as part of the tailoring process. But before using Agile you should discuss what you are trying to do with your line management, donors and stakeholders, and seek buy-in from them. It may require a change of organizational culture to make it work!

NGOs need to be Agile to survive and thrive – Agile is for everyone, it just needs to be applied with a big dash of common sense.

So, in summary:

Agile is a way of working which initially seems to be counter-intuitive;
• It’s a mind-set that follows a philosophy and a series of principles;
• It’s flexible and adaptable to changing environments;
• It works in increments or iterations;
• You need to ruthlessly prioritize to make it work;
• Deliver little and often, test frequently to ensure greater quality;
• Needs focused, collaborative, empowered, transparent;
• With the right projects it can produce better outcomes.

With acknowledgement and thanks to the Agile Business Consortium at http://agilebusiness.org and the Association for Project Management (APM) at http://apm.org.uk

PM4NGOs: A certification also for social communicators

PM4NGOs: A certification also for social communicators

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Being part of an NGO, as member of the communication team, makes possible to apply all of your knowledge either to document the results of a project, position your brand, or make the organization known by its activities. But also, and one of the most important roles, is the good relations a communicator can build, between communities, authorities and the Organization working on different intervention areas.

For this reason, the PM4NGOS training course, becomes an excellent tool for the communicators to accompany the implementation of the projects that an Organization performs. It helps the professional to get a bigger and a detailed portrait of the intervention and how the results will, in the future, impact the lives of families and communities. This, in addition to the communications specialists’ knowledge and tools, can make possible to identify the future achievements and the improvement of live skills the project will produce in the families, making possible, this way, to get ready to know the materials that can be prepared, in different formats, in order to document, and show the results of the project.

As part of the communication team in the Organization, the specialist supports the process of evaluation, getting in touch with the families, leaders, and other actors, to identify their needs and how can these be solved. With the tools provided by PM4NGOs, the professionals can listen and identify the needs more appropriately and help them to translate them in activities.

Also, the course provides the chance to innovate and propose new projects related to communications for development, that can be led by the communications professional trained in Project Management. With PM4NGOs and the tools provided, which are flexible and simple to apply, the project can be easily monitored, being possible to execute the projects in time and in budget.

Therefore, it doesn’t matter your role in the Organization you are part of, or your position, either if you visit communities more or less often, PM4NGOs gives you the tools to understand and implement all kinds of development projects.